The Tragedy of
University of California • Berkeley
THE HEARST CORPORATION
Hearst Memorial Library
Case No. - .4_ Shelf No. £zrJg.
Drawer No |r ' -fory Wn /J. /-**
"NOT Tp BE REMOVED FROM LIBRARY^ /
WITHOUT PROPER AUTHORITY." +* I
WOTCftTY OF HfAKST COtf
THE TRAGEDY OF
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
THE WHITE COMPANY.
THE GREAT SHADOW.
ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.
MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.
THE SIGN OF FOUR.
A STUDY IN SCARLET.
THE FIRM OF GIRDLESTONE.
EXPLOITS OF BRIGADIER GERARD.
CAPTAIN OF THE POLE STAR.
ROUND THE RED LAMP.
THE STARK MUNRO LETTERS.
THE DOINGS OF RAFFLES HAW.
THE COLONEL LEANED FORWARD WITH HIS PISTOL.
THE TRAGEDY OE
A. CONAN DOYLE
AUTHOR OF "MICAH CLARKE," "THE WHITE COMPANY,
"RODNEY STONE," "UNCLE BERNAC," ETC.
WITH FORTY FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE, S.W,
[All Rights reserved]
Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson &> Co.
At the Ballantyne Press
TO MY FRIEND
IN TOKEN OF
MY AFFECTION AND ESTEEM
This book has been materially enlarged
and altered since its appearance in serial
A. CONAN DOYLE
October 27, 1897.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The Colonel leaned forward with his pistol
"And so you will carve tour names also" . . 17
"Isn't it just too lovely for anything?" cried
He pointed up with his donkey-whip ... 58
a silence fell upon the little company . . 65
They looked at the long string of red-turbaned
"you do no good by exposing yourself" . . 82
" i'm done ! " he whispered 88
he struck at the shrinking, snarling savages . 94
He fell suddenly upon his face .... 99
The party streamed into sight again . . . 107
"Don't miss your grip of it" 116
"Tippy Tilly," said he 122
Looking for some landmark ... . . . 133
He rolled over on to his side .... 141
" norah, darling," he shouted, " keep your heart
"They haven't hurt you, Norah, have they?" . 154
it was the hour of arab prayer . . . .159
The old soldier fell forward gasping . . . 163
Xll LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"i am quite certain that i would not leave you " 172
"you must trust to me " 178
The two Emirs gazed suspiciously at them . .187
The creature, after a step or two, stood still . 197
"It's the great caravan route" .... 202
" how can we stave them off for another day ? " 206
A Baggara SLIPPED DOWN WITH A SWORD IN HIS
Senseless under the palm-trees .... 221
" Very good ! go ! " ' said the Colonel abruptly . 228
His hand was clutching at Cochrane's throat . 233
He took a shining date out of the Moolah's
" For your life's sake, stand up ! " . . . 254
" Don't fret, John ! " cried his wife . . . 258
The Colonel was the winner of this terrible
" Good-bye, little Sadie ! " 273
On this pinnacle stood a solitary, motionless
"you haven't got such a thing as a cigar?" . 300
" Not a word ! not a word ! " he cried . . 305
The Arabs were caught between two fires . 313
" They are saved ! " 318
"He delivered them from their distress" . . 328
TRAGEDY OF THE K0R0SK0
The public may possibly wonder why it is that
they have never heard in the papers of the fate
of the passengers of the Korosko. In these days
of universal press agencies, responsive to the
slightest stimulus, it may well seem incredible
that an international incident of such importance
should remain so long unchronicled. Suffice it
that there were very valid reasons, both of a
personal and of a political nature, for holding it
back. The facts were well known to a good
number of people at the time, and some version
of them did actually appear in a provincial paper,
but was generally discredited. They have now
been thrown into narrative form, the incidents
2 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
having been collated from the sworn statements
of Colonel Cochrane Cochrane, of the Army and
Navy Club, and from the letters of Miss Adams,
of Boston, Mass. These have been supplemented
by the evidence of Captain Archer, of the
Egyptian Camel Corps, as given before the
secret Government inquiry at Cairo. Mr.
James Stephens has refused to put his version
of the matter into writing, but as these proofs
have been submitted to him, and no correction
or deletion has been made in them, it may
be supposed that he has not succeeded in
detecting any grave misstatement of fact, and
that any objection which he may have to their
publication depends rather upon private and
The Korosko, a turtle-bottomed, round-bowed
stern-wheeler, with a 30-in. draught and the lines
of a flat-iron, started upon the 1 3 th of February
in the year 1895, from Shellal, at the head of
the first cataract, bound for Wady Haifa. I
have a passenger card for the trip, which I here
THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO
S.W. "Korosko," February 13TH.
Colonel Cochrane Cochrane
Mr. Cecil Brown .
John H. Headingly
Miss Adams .
Miss S. Adams
Mons. Fardet .
Mr. and Mrs. Belmont
Rev. John Stuart .
Mrs. Shlesinger, nurse and child
Worcester, Mass., U.SA.
This was the party as it started from Shellal,
with the intention of travelling up the two hun-
dred miles of Nubian Nile which lie between the
first and the second cataract.
It is a singular country, this Nubia. Varying
in breadth from a few miles to as many yards
(for the name is only applied to the narrow
portion which is capable of cultivation), it ex-
tends in a thin, green, palm-fringed strip upon
either side of the broad coffee -coloured river.
Beyond it there stretches on the Libyan bank a
savage and illimitable desert, extending to the
whole breadth of Africa. On the other side an
4 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
equally desolate wilderness is bounded only by
the distant Red Sea. Between these two huge
and barren expanses Nubia writhes like a green
sand- worm along the course of the river. Here
and there it disappears altogether, and the Nile
runs between black and sun-cracked hills, with
the orange drift-sand lying like glaciers in their
valleys. Everywhere one sees traces of vanished
races and submerged civilisations. Grotesque
graves dot the hills or stand up against the sky-
line : pyramidal graves, tumulus graves, rock
graves — everywhere, graves. And, occasionally,
as the boat rounds a rocky point, one sees a de-
serted city up above — houses, walls, battlements,
with the sun shining through the empty window
squares. Sometimes you learn that it has been
Roman, sometimes Egyptian, sometimes all record
of its name or origin has been absolutely lost.
You ask yourself in amazement why any race
should build in so uncouth a solitude, and you
find it difficult to accept the theory that this
has only been of value as a guard-house to the
richer country down below, and that these frequent
cities have been so many fortresses to hold off the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 5
wild and predatory men of the south. But what-
ever be their explanation, be it a fierce neighbour,
or be it a climatic change, there they stand, these
grim and silent cities, and up on the hills you
can see the graves of their people, like the port-
holes of a man-of-war. It is through this weird,
dead country that the tourists smoke and gossip
and flirt as they pass up to the Egyptian frontier.
The passengers of the Korosko formed a merry
party, for most of them had travelled up together
from Cairo to Assouan, and even Anglo-Saxon
ice thaws rapidly upon the Nile. They were
fortunate in being without the single disagreeable
person who, in these small boats, is sufficient to
mar the enjoyment of the whole party. On a
vessel which is little more than a large steam
launch, the bore, the cynic, or the grumbler holds
the company at his mercy. But the Korosko was
free from anything of the kind. Colonel Cochrane
Cochrane was one of those officers whom the
British Government, acting upon a large system
of averages, declares at a certain age to be in-
capable of further service, and who demonstrate
the worth of such a system by spending their
6 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
declining years in exploring Morocco, or shooting
lions in Somaliland. He was a dark, straight,
aquiline man, with a courteously deferential man-
ner, but a steady, questioning eye ; very neat in
his dress and precise in his habits, a gentleman
to the tips of his trim finger-nails. In his Anglo-
Saxon dislike to effusiveness he had cultivated
a self-contained manner which was apt at first
acquaintance to be repellant, and he seemed to
those who really knew him to be at some pains
to conceal the kind heart and human emotions
which influenced his actions. It was respect
rather than affection which he inspired among
his fellow-travellers, for they felt, like all who had
ever met him, that he was a man with whom
acquaintance was unlikely to ripen into a friend-
ship, though a friendship, when once attained,
would be an unchanging and inseparable part
of himself. He wore a grizzled military mous-
tache, but his hair was singularly black for
a man of his years. He made no allusion in
his conversation to the numerous campaigns in
which he had distinguished himself, and the
reason usually given for his reticence was that
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 7
they dated back to such early Victorian days
that he had to sacrifice his military glory at the
shrine of his perennial youth.
Mr. Cecil Brown — to take the names in the
chance order in which they appear upon the
passenger list — was a young diplomatist from
a Continental Embassy, a man slightly tainted
with the Oxford manner, and erring upon the
side of unnatural and inhuman refinement, but
full of interesting talk and cultured thought.
He had a sad, handsome face, a small wax-tipped
moustache, a low voice and a listless manner,
which was relieved by a charming habit of sud-
denly lighting up into a rapid smile and gleam
when anything caught his fancy. An acquired
cynicism was eternally crushing and overlying
his natural youthful enthusiasms, and he ignored
what was obvious while expressing keen apprecia-
tion for what seemed to the average man to be
either trivial or unhealthy. He chose Walter
Pater for his travelling author, and sat all day,
reserved but affable, under the awning, with his
novel and his sketch-book upon a camp-stool
beside him. His personal dignity prevented him
O THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
from making advances to others, but if they
chose to address him they found a courteous and
The Americans formed a group by themselves.
John H. Heading 1 y was a New Englander, a
graduate of Harvard, who was completing his
education by a tour round the world. He stood
for the best type of young American — quick,
observant, serious, eager for knowledge and fairly
free from prejudice, with a fine ballast of unsec-
tarian but earnest religious feeling which held
him steady amid all the sudden gusts of youth.
He had less of the appearance and more of the
reality of culture than the young Oxford diplo-
matist, for he had keener emotions though less
exact knowledge. Miss Adams and Miss Sadie
Adams were aunt and niece, the former a little,
energetic, hard-featured Bostonian old-maid, with
a huge surplus of unused love behind her stern
and swarthy features. She had never been from
home before, and she was now busy upon the
self-imposed task of bringing the East up to
the standard of Massachusetts. She had hardly
landed in Egypt before she realised that the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 9
country needed putting to rights, and since the
conviction struck her she had been very fully
occupied. The saddle-galled donkeys, the starved
pariah dogs, the flies round the eyes of the
babies, the naked children, the importunate beg-
gars, the ragged, untidy women — they were all
challenges to her conscience, and she plunged in
bravely at her work of reformation. As she
could not speak a word of the language, however,
and was unable to make any of the delinquents
understand what it was that she wanted, her
passage up the Nile left the immemorial East
very much as she had found it, but afforded a
good deal of sympathetic amusement to her
fellow - travellers. No one enjoyed her efforts
more than her niece, Sadie, who shared with
Mrs. Belmont the distinction of being the most
popular person upon the boat. She was very
young — fresh from Smith College — and she still
possessed many both of the virtues and of the
faults of a child. She had the frankness, the
trusting confidence, the innocent straightforward-
ness, the high spirits, and also the loquacity and
the want of reverence. But even her faults
10 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
caused amusement, and if she had preserved
many of the characteristics of a clever child,
she was none the less a tall and handsome
woman, who looked older than her years on
account of that low curve of the hair over the
ears, and that fulness of bodice and skirt which
Mr. Gibson has either initiated or imitated. The
whisk of those skirts, and the frank, incisive
voice and pleasant, catching laugh were familiar
and welcome sounds on board of the Korosko.
Even the rigid Colonel softened into geniality,
and the Oxford-bred diplomatist forgot to be
unnatural with Miss Sadie Adams as a com-
The other passengers may be dismissed more
briefly. Some were interesting, some neutral, and
all amiable. Monsieur Fardet was a good-natured
but argumentative Frenchman, who held the
most decided views as to the deep machinations
of Great Britain, and the illegality of her position
in Egypt. Mr. Belmont was an iron-grey, sturdy
Irishman, famous as an astonishingly good long-
range rifle-shot, who had carried off nearly every
prize which Wimbledon or Bisley had to offer.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 11
With him was his wife, a very charming and
refined woman, full of the pleasant playfulness
of her country. Mrs. Shlesinger was a middle-
aged widow, quiet and soothing, with her
thoughts all taken up by her six-year-old
child, as a mother's thoughts are likely to be
in a boat which has an open rail for a bul-
wark. The Reverend John Stuart was a Non-
conformist minister from Birmingham — either a
Presbyterian or a Congregationalist — a man of
immense stoutness, slow and torpid in his ways,
but blessed with a considerable fund of homely
humour, which made him, I am told, a very
favourite preacher, and an effective speaker from
advanced Radical platforms.
Finally, there was Mr. James Stephens, a Man-
chester solicitor (junior partner of Hickson, Ward,
and Stephens), who was travelling to shake off
the effects of an attack of influenza. Stephens
was a man who, in the course of thirty years,
had worked himself up from cleaning the firm's
windows to managing its business. For most of
that long time he had been absolutely immersed
in dry, technical work, living with the one idea
12 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
of satisfying old clients and attracting new ones,
until his mind and soul had become as formal
and precise as the laws which he expounded.
A fine and sensitive nature was in danger of
being as warped as a busy city man's is liable to
become. His work had become an engrained
habit, and, being a bachelor, he had hardly an
interest in life to draw him away from it, so
that his soul was being gradually bricked up
like the body of a mediaeval nun. But at
last there came this kindly illness, and Nature
hustled James Stephens out of his groove, and
sent him into the broad world far away from
roaring Manchester and his shelves full of calf-
skin authorities. At first he resented it deeply.
Everything seemed trivial to him compared to his
own petty routine. But gradually his eyes were
opened, and he began dimly to see that it was
his work which was trivial when compared to this
wonderful, varied, inexplicable world of which he
was so ignorant. Vaguely he realised that the
interruption to his career might be more im-
portant than the career itself. All sorts of new
interests took possession of him ; and the middle-
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 13
aged lawyer developed an after-glow of that youth
which had been wasted among his books. His
character was too formed to admit of his being any-
thing but dry and precise in his ways, and a trifle
pedantic in his mode of speech ; but he read and
thought and observed, scoring his " Baedeker "
with underlinings and annotations as he had
once done his " Prideaux's Commentaries." He
had travelled up from Cairo with the party, and
had contracted a friendship with Miss Adams
and her niece. The young American girl, with
her chatter, her audacity, and her constant flow
of high spirits, amused and interested him, and
she in turn felt a mixture of respect and of pity
for his knowledge and his limitations. So they
became good friends, and people smiled to see
his clouded face and her sunny one bending over
the same guide-book.
The little Korosko puffed and spluttered her
way up the river, kicking up the white water
behind her, and making more noise and fuss
over her five knots an hour than an Atlantic
liner on a record voyage. On deck, under the
thick awning, sat her little family of passen-
14 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
gers, and every few hours she eased down and
sidled up to the bank to allow them to visit
one more of that innumerable succession of
temples. The remains, however, grow more
modern as one ascends from Cairo, and travel-
lers who have sated themselves at Gizeh and
Sakara with the contemplation of the very
oldest buildings which the hands of man have
constructed, become impatient of temples which
are hardly older than the Christian era. Ruins
which would be gazed upon with wonder and
veneration in any other country are hardly noticed
in Egypt. The tourists viewed with languid
interest the half-Greek art of the Nubian bas-
reliefs; they climbed the hill of Korosko to see
the sun rise over the savage Eastern desert ; they
were moved to wonder by the great shrine of
Abou-Simbel, where some old race has hollowed
out a mountain as if it ■ were a cheese ; and,
finally, upon the evening of the fourth day of
their travels they arrived at Wady Haifa, the
frontier garrison town, some few hours after they
were due, on account of a small mishap in the
engine-room. The next morning was to be
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 15
devoted to an expedition to the famous rock of
Abousir, from which a great view may be ob-
tained of the second cataract. At eight-thirty,
as the passengers sat on deck after dinner, Man-
soor, the dragoman, half Copt half Syrian, came
forward, according to the nightly custom, to
announce the programme for the morrow.
" Ladies and gentlemen," said he, plunging
boldly into the rapid but broken stream of his
English, " to-morrow you will remember not to
forget to rise when the gong strikes you for
to compress the journey before twelve o'clock.
Having arrived at the place where the donkeys
expect us, we shall ride five miles over the desert,
passing a temple of Ammon-ra, which dates itself
from the eighteenth dynasty, upon the way, and
so reach the celebrated pulpit rock of Abousir.
The pulpit rock is supposed to have been called
so, because it is a rock like a pulpit. When
you have reached it you will know that you are
on the very edge of civilisation, and that very
little more will take you into the country of the
Dervishes, which will be obvious to you at the top.
Having passed the summit, you will perceive the
16 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
full extremity of the second cataract, embracing
wild natural beauties of the most dreadful variety.
Here all very famous people carve their names —
and so you will carve your names also." Mansoor
waited expectantly for a titter, and bowed to it
when it arrived. " You will then return to Wady
Haifa, and there remain two hours to suspect the
Camel Corps, including the grooming of the beasts,
and the bazaar before returning, so I wish you a
very happy good-night."
There was a gleam of his white teeth in the
lamplight, and then his long, dark petticoats, his
short English cover-coat, and his red tarboosh
vanished successively down the ladder. The low
buzz of conversation which had been suspended
by his coming broke out anew.
" I'm relying on you, Mr. Stephens, to tell me
all about Abousir," said Miss Sadie Adams. a I
do like to know what I am looking at right there
at the time, and not six hours afterwards in my
state-room. I haven't got Abou-Simbel and the
wall pictures straight in my mind yet, though I
saw them yesterday."
" I never hope to keep up with it," said her
'and so you will carve your names also."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 19
aunt. " When I am safe back in Commonwealth
Avenue, and there's no dragoman to hustle me
around, I'll have time to read about it all, and
then I expect I shall begin to enthuse, and want
to come right back again. But it's just too good of
you, Mr. Stephens, to try and keep us informed."
" I thought that you might wish precise infor-
mation, and so I prepared a small digest of the
matter," said Stephens, handing a slip of paper
to Miss Sadie. She looked at it in the light of
the deck lamp, and broke into her low, hearty
" Re Abousir," she read ; " now, what do you
mean by * re,' Mr. Stephens ? You put ■ re
Rameses the Second' on the last paper you
" It is a habit I have acquired, Miss Sadie,"
said Stephens ; " it is the custom in the legal
profession when they make a memo."
" Make what, Mr. Stephens ? "
"A memo a memorandum, you know.
We put re so-and-so to show what it is about."
" I suppose^ it's a good short way," said Miss
Sadie, "but it feels queer somehow when ap-
20 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
plied to scenery or to dead Egyptian kings. ' Be
Cheops ' — doesn't that strike you as funny ? "
" No, I can't say that it does," said Stephens.
" I wonder if it is true that the English have
less humour than the Americans, or whether it's
just another kind of humour," said the girl. She
had a quiet, abstracted way of talking as if she
were thinking aloud. " I used to imagine they
had less, and yet, when you come to think of
it, Dickens and Thackeray and Barrie, and so
many other of the humourists we admire most
are Britishers. Besides, I never in all my days
heard people laugh so hard as in that London
theatre. There was a man behind us, and every
time he laughed auntie looked round to see if
a door had opened, he made such a draught.
But you have some funny expressions, Mr.
Stephens ! "
" What else strikes you as funny, Miss Sadie ? "
"Well, when you sent me the temple ticket
and the little map, you began your letter, ' En-
closed, please find/ and then at the bottom, in
brackets, you had ' 2 enclo.' "
" That is the usual form in business."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 21
"Yes, in business," said Sadie demurely, and
there was a silence.
" There's one thing I wish," remarked Miss
Adams, in the hard, metallic voice with which
she disguised her softness of heart, " and that
is, that I could see the Legislature of this country
and lay a few cold-drawn facts in front of them.
I'd make a platform of my own, Mr. Stephens,
and run a party on my ticket. A Bill for the
compulsory use of eyewash would be one of my
planks, and another would be for the abolition of
those Yashmak veil things which turn a woman
into a bale of cotton goods with a pair of eyes
looking out of it."
" I never could think why they wore them,"
said Sadie ; " until one day I saw one with her
veil lifted. Then I knew."
" They make me tired, those women," cried Miss
Adams wrathfully. " One might as well try to
preach duty and decency and cleanliness to a line
of bolsters. Why, good land, it was only yesterday
at Abou-Simbel, Mr. Stephens, I was passing one
of their houses — if you can call a mud-pie like
that a house — and I saw two of the children
22 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
at the door with the usual crust of flies round
their eyes, and great holes in their poor little blue
gowns ! So I got off my donkey, and I turned
up my sleeves, and I washed their faces well
with my handkerchief, and sewed up the rents
— for in this country I would as soon think of
going ashore without my needle-case as without
my white umbrella, Mr. Stephens. Then as I
warmed on the job I got into the room — such
a room ! — and I packed the folks out of it, and I
fairly did the chores as if I had been the hired
help. I've seen no more of that temple of Abou-
Simbel than if I had never left Boston ; but, my
sakes, I saw more dust and mess than you would
think they could crowd into a house the size of
a Newport bathing-hut. From the time I pinned
up my skirt until I came out with my face the
colour of that smoke-stack, wasn't more than an
hour, or maybe an hour and a half, but I had
that house as clean and fresh as a new pine- wood
box. I had a New York Herald with me, and I
lined their shelf with paper for them. Well, Mr.
Stephens, when I had done washing my hands
outside, I came past the door again, and there
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 23
were those two children sitting on the stoop with
their eyes full of flies, and all just the same as
ever, except that each had a little paper cap
made out of the New York Herald upon his head.
But, say, Sadie, it's going on to ten o'clock, and
to-morrow an early excursion."
" It's just too beautiful, this purple sky and
the great silver stars," said Sadie. " Look at
the silent desert and the black shadows of the
hills. It's grand, but it's terrible too ; and then
when you think that we really are, as that
dragoman said just now, on the very end of
civilisation, and with nothing but savagery and
bloodshed down there where the Southern Cross
is twinkling so prettily, why, it's like standing
on the beautiful edge of a live volcano."
" Shucks, Sadie, don't talk like that, child,"
said the older woman nervously. "It's enough
to scare any one to listen to you."
" Well, but don't you feel it yourself, Auntie ?
Look at that great desert stretching away and
away until it is lost in the shadows. Hear the
sad whisper of the wind across it ! It's just the
most solemn thing that ever I saw in my life."
24 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" I'm glad we've found something that will
make you solemn, my dear," said her Aunt.
" I've sometimes thought Sakes alive, what's
that ? "
From somewhere amongst the hill shadows
upon the other side of the river there had risen
a high shrill whimpering, rising and swelling, to
end in a long weary wail.
" It's only a jackal, Miss Adams," said Stephens.
" I heard one when we went out to see the Sphinx
But the American lady had risen, and her face
showed that her nerves had been ruffled.
" If I had my time over again I wouldn't have
come past Assouan," said she. " I can't think
what possessed me to bring you all the way up
here, Sadie. Your mother will think that I am
clean crazy, and I'd never dare to look her in the
eye if anything went wrong with us. I've seen
all I want to see of this river, and all I ask now
is to be back at Cairo again."
" Why, Auntie," cried the girl, " it isn't like
you to be faint-hearted."
"Well, I don't know how it is, Sadie, but I
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 25
feel a bit unstrung, and that beast caterwauling
over yonder was just more than I could put up
with. There's one consolation, we are scheduled
to be on our way home to-morrow, after we've
seen this one rock or temple, or whatever it is.
I'm full up of rocks and temples, Mr. Stephens.
I shouldn't mope if I never saw another. Come,
Sadie ! Good-night ! "
" Good-night ! Good-night, Miss Adams ! "
And the two ladies passed down to their
Monsieur Fardet was chatting, in a subdued
voice, with Headingly, the young Harvard
graduate, bending forward confidentially be-
tween the whiffs of his cigarette.
" Dervishes, Mister Headingly ! " said he, speak-
ing excellent English, but separating his syllables
as a Frenchman will. " There are no Dervishes.
They do not exist."
" Why, I thought the woods were full of them,"
said the American.
Monsieur Fardet glanced across to where the
red core of Colonel Cochrane's cigar was glowing
through the darkness.
26 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
"You are an American, and you do not like
the English," he whispered. " It is perfectly
comprehended upon the Continent that the
Americans are opposed to the English."
"Well," said Headingly, with his slow, de-
liberate manner, " I won't say that we have not
our tiffs, and there are some of our people-—
mostly of Irish stock — who are always mad
with England ; but the most of us have a kindly
thought for the mother country. You see, they
may be aggravating folk sometimes, but after all
they are our own folk, and we can t wipe that
off the slate."
" Eh lien ! " said the Frenchman. " At least
I can say to you what I could not without offence
say to these others. And I repeat that there
are, no Dervishes. They were an invention of
Lord Cromer in the year 1885."
" You don't say ! " cried Headingly.
" It is well known in Paris, and has been
exposed in La Patrie and other of our so well-
" But this is colossal," said Headingly. " Do
you mean to tell me, Monsieur Fardet, that the
THE TRAGEDY OE THE KOROSKO 27
siege of Khartoum and the death of Gordon and
the rest of it was just one great bluff? "
" I will not deny that there was an eineute,
but it was local, you understand, and now long
forgotten. Since then there has been profound
peace in the Soudan."
"But I have heard of raids, Monsieur Eardet,
and I've read of battles, too, when the Arabs
tried to invade Egypt. It was only two days
ago that we passed Toski, where the dragoman
said there had been a fight. Is that all bluff
" Pah, my friend, you do not know the
English. You look at them as you see them
with their pipes and their contented faces, and
you say, ' Now, these are good, simple folk, who
will never hurt any one.' But all the time they
are thinking and watching and planning. ' Here
is Egypt weak,' they cry. 'Allons/' and down
they swoop like a gull upon a crust. ' You have
no right there,' says the world. ' Come out
of it ! ' But England has already begun to tidy
everything, just like the good Miss Adams when
she forces her way into the house of an Arab.
28 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
1 Come out,' says the world. ' Certainly," says
England; 'just wait one little minute until I
have made everything nice and proper.' So the
world waits for a year or so, and then it says
once again, ' Come out.' ' Just wait a little,' says
England ; ' there is trouble at Khartoum, and
when I have set that all right I shall be very
glad to come out.' So they wait until it is all
over, and then again they say, ' Come out.'
' How can I come out,' says England, ' when
there are still raids and battles going on ? If
we were to leave, Egypt would be run over.'
' But there are no raids,' says the world. ' Oh,
are there not ? ' says England, and then within a
week sure enough the papers are full of some
new raid of Dervishes. We are not all blind,
Mister Headingly. We understand very well
how such things can be done. A few Bedouins,
a little backsheesh, some blank cartridges, and,
behold — a raid ! "
" Well, well," said the American, " I'm glad to
know the rights of this business, for it has often
puzzled me. But what does England get out
of it ? "
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 29
" She gets the country, monsieur."
" I see. You mean, for example, that there is
a favourable tariff for British goods ? "
" No, monsieur ; it is the same for all."
"Well, then, she gives the contracts to
Britishers ? "
" Precisely, monsieur."
" For example, the railroad that they are
building right through the country, the one that
runs alongside the river, that would be a valu-
able contract for the British ? "
Monsieur Fardet was an honest man, if an
" It is a French company, monsieur, which
holds the railway contract," said he.
The American was puzzled.
" They don't seem to get much for their
trouble," said he. " Still, of course, there must
be some indirect pull somewhere. For example,
Egypt no doubt has to pay and keep all those
red-coats in Cairo."
"Egypt, monsieur! No, they are paid by
" Well, I suppose they know their own busi-
30 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
ness best, but they seem to me to take a great
deal of trouble, and to get mighty little in ex-
change. If they don't mind keeping order and
guarding the frontier, with a constant war against
the Dervishes on their hands, I don't know why
any one should object. I suppose no one denies
that the prosperity of the country has increased
enormously since they came. The revenue re-
turns show that. They tell me also that the
poorer folks have justice, which they never had
" What are they doing here at all ? " cried the
Frenchman angrily. " Let them go back to
their island. We cannot have them all over
" Well, certainly, to us Americans, who live
all in our own land, it does seem strange how
you European nations are for ever slopping over
into some other country which was not meant
for you. It's easy for us to talk, of course, for
we have still got room and to spare for all our
people. When we begin pushing each other over
the edge we shall have to start annexing also.
But at present just here in North Africa there
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 31
is Italy in Abyssinia, and England in Egypt, and
France in Algiers "
" France ! " cried Monsieur Fardet. " Algiers
belongs to France. You laugh, monsieur. I
have the honour to wish you a very good-night."
He rose from his seat, and walked off, rigid with
outraged patriotism, to his cabin.
The young American hesitated for a little,
debating in his mind whether he should not
go down and post up the daily record of his
impressions which he kept for his home- staying
sister. But the cigars of Colonel Cochrane and
of Cecil Brown were still twinkling in the far
corner of the deck, and the student was acquisi-
tive in the search of information. He did not
quite know how to lead up to the matter, but
the Colonel very soon did it for him.
" Come on ; Headingly," said he, pushing a
camp-stool in his direction. " This is the place
for an antidote. I see that Fardet has been
pouring politics into your ear."
" I can always recognise the confidential stoop
of his shoulders when he discusses la haute
politique" said the dandy diplomatist. "But
what a sacrilege upon a night like this ! What
a nocturne in blue and silver might be suggested
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 33
by that moon rising above the desert. There is
a movement in one of Mendelssohn's songs which
seems to embody it all — a sense of vastness, of
repetition, the cry of the wind over an intermin-
able expanse. The subtler emotions which can-
not be translated into words are still to be hinted
at by chords and harmonies."
" It seems wilder and more savage than ever
to-night," remarked the American. " It gives
me the same feeling of pitiless force that the
Atlantic does upon a cold, dark, winter day.
Perhaps it is the knowledge that we are right
there on the very edge of any kind of law and
order. How far do you suppose that we are
from any Dervishes, Colonel Cochrane ? "
" Well, on the Arabian side," said the Colonel,
" we have the Egyptian fortified camp of Sarras
about forty miles to the south of us. Beyond
that are sixty miles of very wild country before
you would come to the Dervish post at Akasheh.
On this other side, however, there is nothing
between us and them."
" Abousir is on this side, is it not ? "
" Yes. That is why the excursion to the
34 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
Abousir Rock has been forbidden for the last
year. But things are quieter now."
" What is to prevent them from coming down
on that side ? "
" Absolutely nothing," said Cecil Brown, in his
" Nothing, except their fears. The coming
of course would be perfectly simple. The
difficulty would lie in the return. They might
find it hard to get back if their camels were
spent, and the Haifa garrison with their beasts
fresh got on their track. They know it as well
as we do, and it has kept them from trying."
" It isn't safe to reckon upon a Dervish's
fears," remarked Brown. " We must always bear
in mind that they are not amenable to the
same motives as other people. Many of them
are anxious to meet death, and all of them are
absolute, uncompromising believers in destiny.
They exist as a reductio ad absurdum of all
bigotry — a proof of how surely it leads towards
" You think these people are a real menace
to Egypt ? " asked the American. " There seems
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 35
from what I have heard to be some difference
of opinion about it. Monsieur Fardet, for example,
does not seem to think that the danger is a very
" I am not a rich man," Colonel Cochrane
answered after a little pause, " but I am pre-
pared to lay all I am worth, that within three
years of the British officers being withdrawn,
the Dervishes would be upon the Mediterranean.
Where would the civilisation of Egypt be ? where
would the hundreds of millions which have been
invested in this country ? where the monuments
Avhich all nations look upon as most precious
memorials of the past ? "
" Come now, Colonel," cried Headingly, laugh-
ing, " surely you don't mean that they would
shift the pyramids ? "
" You cannot foretell what they would do.
There is no iconoclast in the world like an
extreme Mohammedan. Last time they over-
ran this country they burned the Alexandrian
Library. You know that all representations of
the human features are against the letter of
the Koran. A statue is always an irreligious
36 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
object in their eyes. What do these fellows
care for the sentiment of Europe ? The more
they could offend it, the more delighted they
would be. Down would go the Sphinx, the
Colossi, the Statues of Abou-Simbel — as the
saints went down in England before Cromwell's
" Well now," said Headingly, in his slow,
thoughtful fashion, " suppose I grant you that
the Dervishes could overrun Egypt, and suppose
also that you English are holding them out,
what I'm never done asking is, what reason
have you for spending all these millions of
dollars and the lives of so many of your men ?
What do you get out of it, more than France
gets, or Germany, or any other country, that
runs no risk and never lays out a cent ? "
" There are a good many Englishmen who
are asking themselves that question," remarked
Cecil Brown. " It's my opinion that we have
been the policemen of the world long enough.
We policed the seas for pirates and slavers. Now
we police the land for Dervishes and brigands and
every sort of danger to civilisation. There is never
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 37
a mad priest or a witch doctor, or a firebrand of
any sort on this planet, who does not report his
appearance by sniping the nearest British officer.
One tires of it at last. If a Kurd breaks loose
in Asia Minor, the world wants to know why
Great Britain does not keep him in order. If
there is a military mutiny in Egypt, or a Jehad
in the Soudan, it it still Great Britain who has
to set it right. And all to an accompaniment
of curses such as the policeman gets when he
seizes a ruffian among his pals. We get hard
knocks and no thanks, and why should we do
it ? Let Europe do its own dirty work."
" Well," said Colonel Cochrane, crossing his
legs and leaning forward with the decision of
a man who has definite opinions, " I don't at
all agree with you, Brown, and I think that to
advocate such a course is to take a very limited
view of our national duties. I think that behind
national interests and diplomacy and all that
there lies a great guiding force — a Providence,
in fact — which is for ever getting the best out
of each nation and using it for the good of the
whole. When a nation ceases to respond, it is
38 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOEOSKO
time that she went into hospital for a few
centuries, like Spain or Greece — the virtue has
gone out of her. A man or a nation is not placed
upon this earth to do merely what is pleasant and
what is profitable. It is often called upon to
carry out what is both unpleasant and unprofit-
able, but if it is obviously right it is mere shirk-
ing not to undertake it."
Headingly nodded approvingly.
" Each has its own mission. Germany is pre-
dominant in abstract thought ; France in litera-
ture, art, and grace. But we and you — for the
English-speakers are all in the same boat, how-
ever much the New York San may scream over
it — we and you have among our best men a.
higher conception of moral sense and public
duty than is to be found in any other people.
Now, these are the two qualities which are
needed for directing a weaker race. You
can't help them by abstract thought or by
graceful art, but only by that moral sense
which will hold the scales of Justice even, and
keep itself free from every taint of corruption.
That is how we rule India. We came there
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 39
by a kind of natural law, like air rushing into
a vacuum. All over the world, against our
direct interests and our deliberate intentions, we
are drawn into the same thing. And it will
happen to you also. The pressure of destiny
will force you to administer the whole of America
from Mexico to the Horn."
"Our Jingoes would be pleased to hear you,
Colonel Cochrane," said he. " They'd vote you
into our Senate and make you one of the
Committee on Foreign Relations."
" The world is small, and it grows smaller every
day. It's a single organic body, and one spot of
gangrene is enough to vitiate the whole. There's
no room upon it for dishonest, defaulting, tyran-
nical, irresponsible Governments. As long as
they exist they will always be sources of trouble
and of danger. But there are many races which
appear to be so incapable of improvement that
we can never hope to get a good Government
out of them. What is to be done, then ? The
former device of Providence in such a case was
extermination by some more virile stock — an
40 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
Attila or a Tamerlane pruned off the weaker
branch. Now, we have a more merciful substitu-
tion of rulers, or even of mere advice from a
more advanced race. That is the case with the
Central Asian Khanates and with the protected
States of India. If the work has to be done,
and if we are the best fitted for the work, then
I think that it would be a cowardice and a crime
to shirk it."
" But who is to decide whether it is a fitting
case for your interference?" objected the American.
" A predatory country could grab every other
land in the world upon such a pretext."
"Events — inexorable, inevitable events — will
decide it. Take this Egyptian business as an
example. In 1 8 8 1 there was nothing in this
world further from the minds of our people than
any interference with Egypt ; and yet 1882 left
us in possession of the country. There was never
any choice in the chain of events. A massacre
in the streets of Alexandria, and the mounting
of guns to drive out our fleet— which was there,
you understand, in fulfilment of solemn treaty
obligations — led to the bombardment. The bom-
THE TRAGEDY Of THE KOROSKO 41
bardment led to a landing to save the city from
destruction. The landing caused an extension
of operations — and here we are, with the country
upon our hands. At the time of trouble we
begged and implored the French, or any one else,
to come and help us to put the thing to rights,
but they all deserted us when there was work to
be done, although they are ready enough to scold
and to impede us now. When we tried to get out
of it, up came this wild Dervish movement, and
we had to sit tighter than ever. We never
wanted the task; but, now that it has come,
we must put it through in a workmanlike
manner. We've brought justice into the country,
and purity of administration, and protection for
the poor man. It has made more advance in
the last twelve years than since the Moslem
invasion in the seventh century. Except the
pay of a couple of hundred men, who spend
their money in the country, England has neither
directly nor indirectly made a shilling out of it,
and I don't believe you will find in history a
more successful and more disinterested bit of
42 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
Headingly puffed thoughtfully at his cigarette.
" There is a house near ours, down on the
Back Bay at Boston, which just ruins the whole
prospect," said he. " It has old chairs littered
about the stoop, and the shingles are loose, and
the garden runs wild ; but I don't know that
the neighbours are exactly justified in rushing
in, and stamping around, and running the thing
on their own lines."
" Not if it were on fire ? " asked the Colonel.
Headingly laughed, and rose from his camp-
" Well, it doesn't come within the provisions
of the Monroe Doctrine, Colonel," said he. " I'm
beginning to realise that modern Egypt is every
bit as interesting as ancient, and that Barneses
the Second wasn't the last live man in the
The two Englishmen rose and yawned.
" Yes, it's a whimsical freak of fortune which
has sent men from a little island in the Atlantic
to administer, the land of the Pharaohs," remarked
Cecil Brown. " We shall pass away again, and
never leave a trace among these successive races
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 43
who have held the country, for it is not an
Anglo-Saxon custom to write their deeds upon
rocks. I daresay that the remains of a Cairo
drainage system will be our most permanent
record, unless they prove a thousand years hence
that it was the work of the Hyksos kings. But
here is the shore party come back."
Down below they could here the mellow Irish
accents of Mrs. Belmont and the deep voice of
her husband, the iron-grey rifle-shot. Mr. Stuart,
the fat Birmingham clergyman, was thrashing out
a question of piastres with a noisy donkey-boy, and
the others were joining in with chaff and advice.
Then the hubbub died away, the party from
above came down the ladder, there were " good-
nights," the shutting of doors, and the little
steamer lay silent, dark, and motionless in the
shadow of the high Haifa bank. And beyond this
one point of civilisation and of comfort there lay
the limitless, savage, unchangeable desert, straw-
coloured and dream-like in the moonlight, mottled
over with the black shadows of the hills.
" Stoppa ! Backa ! " cried the native pilot to the
The bluff bows of the stern - wheeler had
squelched into the soft brown mud, and the
current had swept the boat alongside the bank.
The long gangway was thrown across, and the six
tall soldiers of the Soudanese escort filed along
it, their light-blue gold-trimmed zouave uniforms,
and their jaunty yellow and red forage-caps,
showing up bravely in the clear morning light.
Above them, on the top of the bank, was ranged
the line of donkeys, and the air was full of the
clamour of the boys. In shrill strident voices,
each was crying out the virtues of his own beast,
and abusing that of his neighbour.
Colonel Cochrane and Mr. Belmont stood
together in the bows, each wearing the broad
white puggareed hat of the tourist. Miss Adams
and her niece leaned against the rail beside them.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 45
" Sorry your wife isn't coming, Belmont," said
" I think she had a touch of the sun yesterday.
Her head aches very badly."
His voice was strong and thick like his figure.
" I should stay to keep her company, Mr.
Belmont," said the little American old maid;
" but I learn that Mrs. Shlesinger finds the ride
too long for her, and has some letters which she
must mail to-day, so Mrs. Belmont will not be
" You're very good, Miss Adams. We shall be
back, you know, by two o'clock."
" Is that certain ? "
" It must be certain, for we are taking no
lunch with us, and we shall be famished by
" Yes, I expect we shall be ready for a hock
and seltzer at any rate," said the Colonel. " This
desert dust gives a flavour to the worst wine."
" Now, ladies and gentlemen ! " cried Mansoor,
the dragoman, moving forward with something
of the priest in his flowing garments and smooth,
clean-shaven face. " We must start early that
46 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
we may return before the meridial heat of the
weather." He ran his dark eyes over the little
group of his tourists with a paternal expression.
" You take your green glasses, Miss Adams, for
glare very great out in the desert. Ah, Mr.
Stuart, I set aside very fine donkey for you
— prize donkey, sir, always put aside for the
gentleman of most weight. Never mind to take
your monument ticket to-day. Now, ladies and
gentlemen, if you please ! "
Like a grotesque frieze the party moved one by
one along the plank gangway and up the brown
crumbling bank. Mr. Stephens led them, a thin,
dry, serious figure, in an English straw hat. His
red " Baedeker " gleamed under his arm, and in
one hand he held a little paper of notes, as if it
were a brief. He took Miss Sadie by one arm
and her aunt by the other as they toiled up the
bank, and the young girl's laughter rang frank
and clear in the morning air as " Baedeker " came
fluttering down at their feet. Mr. Belmont and
Colonel Cochrane followed, the brims of their
sun-hats touching as they discussed the relative
advantages of the Mauser, the Lebel, and the
THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 47
Lee-Met ford. Behind them walked Cecil Brown,
listless, cynical, self-contained. The fat clergy-
man puffed slowly up the bank, with many gasping
witticisms at his own defects. " I'm one of those
men who carry everything before them," said he,
glancing ruefully at his rotundity, and chuck-
ling wheezily at his own little joke. Last of all
came Headingly, slight and tall, with the student
stoop about his shoulders, and Fardet, the good-
natured, fussy, argumentative Parisian.
" You see we have an escort to-day," he whis-
pered to his companion.
" So I observed."
" Pah ! " cried the Frenchman, throwing out
his arms in derision ; " as well have an escort
from Paris to Versailles. This is all part of the
play, Monsieur Headingly. It deceives no one,
but it is part of the play. Pourquoi ces droles de
militaires, dragoman, hein ? "
It was the dragoman's role to be all things to
all men, so he looked cautiously round before he
answered, to make sure that the English were
mounted and out of earshot.
" C'est ridicule, monsieur ! " said he, shrugging
48 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
his fat shoulders. " Mais que voulez-vous ? C'est
I'ordre officiel Egyptien."
" Egyptien ! Pah, Anglais, Anglais — toujour s
Anglais!" cried the angry Frenchman.
The frieze now was more grotesque than ever,
but had changed suddenly to an equestrian one,
sharply outlined against the deep-blue Egyptian
sky. Those who have never ridden before have
to ride in Egypt, and when the donkeys break
into a canter, and the Nile Irregulars are at full
charge, such a scene of flying veils, clutching
hands, huddled swaying figures, and anxious faces
is nowhere to be seen. Belmont, his square
figure balanced upon a small white donkey, was
waving his hat to his wife, who had come out
upon the saloon-deck of the Korosko. Cochrane
sat very erect with a stiff military seat, hands
low, head high, and heels down, while beside
him rode the young Oxford man, looking about
him with drooping eyelids as if he thought the
desert hardly respectable, and had his doubts
about the Universe. Behind them the whole
party was strung along the bank in varying stages
of jolting and discomfort, a brown-faced, noisy
isn't it just too lovely for anything?" CRIED SADIE.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 51
donkey-boy running after each donkey. Looking
back, they could see the little lead-coloured stern-
wheeler, with the gleam of Mrs. Belmont's hand-
kerchief from the deck. Beyond ran the broad,
brown river, winding down in long curves to
where, five miles off, the square, white block-
houses upon the black, ragged hills marked the
outskirts of Wady Haifa, which had been their
starting-point that morning,
" Isn't it just too lovely for anything ? " cried
Sadie joyously. " I've got a donkey that runs on
casters, and the saddle is just elegant. Did you
ever see anything so cunning as these beads and
things round his neck ? You must make a
memo, re donkey, Mr. Stephens. Isn't that
correct legal English ? "
Stephens looked at the pretty, animated, boyish
face looking up at him from under the coquettish
straw hat, and he wished that he had the courage
to tell her in her own language that she was just
too sweet for anything. But he feared above all
things lest he should offend her, and so put an
end to their present pleasant intimacy. So his
compliment dwindled into a smile.
52 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" You look very happy," said he.
" Well, who could help feeling good with this
dry, clear air, and the blue sky, and the crisp yellow
sand, and a superb donkey to carry you ? I've just
got everything in the world to make me happy."
" Everything ? "
" Well/everything I have any use for just now."
" I suppose you never know what it is to be
sad ? "
" Oh, when I am miserable, I am just too
miserable for words. I've sat and cried for days
and days at Smith's College, and the other girls
were just crazy to know what I was crying about,
and guessing what the reason was that I wouldn't
tell them, when all the time the real true reason
was that I didn't know myself. You know how
it comes like a great dark shadow over you, and
you don't know why or wherefore, but you've just
got to settle down to it and be miserable."
" But you never had any real cause ? "
" No, Mr. Stephen, I've had such a good time
all my life that I really don't think, when I look
back, that I ever had any real cause for sorrow."
" Well, Miss Sadie, 1 hope with all my heart
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 53
that you will be able to say the same when you
are the same age as your aunt. Surely I hear
" I wish, Mr. Stephens, you would strike my
donkey-boy with your whip if he hits the donkey
again," cried Miss Adams, jogging up on a high,
raw-boned beast. " Hi, dragoman, Mansoor, you
tell this boy that I won't have the animals ill
used, and that he ought to be ashamed of him-
self. Yes, you little rascal, you ought ! He's
grinning at me like an advertisement for a tooth
paste. Do you think, Mr. Stephens, that if I
were to knit that black soldier a pair of woollen
stockings he would be allowed to wear them ?
The poor creature has bandages round his legs."
" Those are his putties, Miss Adams," said
Colonel Cochrane, looking back at her. " We
have found in India that they are the best
support to the leg in marching. They are very
much better than any stocking."
" Well, you don't say ! They remind me
mostly of a sick horse. But it's elegant to have
the soldiers with us, though Monsieur Fardet tells
me there's nothing for us to be scared about."
54 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOEOSKO
"That is only my opinion, Miss Adams," said
the Frenchman hastily. " It may be that Colonel
Cochrane thinks otherwise."
"It is Monsieur Fardet's opinion against that of
the officers who have the responsibility of caring
for the safety of the frontier," said the Colonel
coldly. "At least we will all agree that they
have the effect of making the scene very much
The desert upon their right lay in long curves
of sand, like the dunes which might have fringed
some forgotten primeval sea. Topping them they
could see the black, craggy summits of the curious
volcanic hills which rise upon the Libyan side.
On the crest of the low sand-hills they would
catch a glimpse every now and then of a tall,
sky-blue soldier, walking swiftly, his rifle at the
trail. For a moment the lank, warlike figure
would be sharply silhouetted against the sky.
Then he would dip into a hollow and disappear,
while some hundred yards off another would show
for an instant and vanish.
" Wherever are they raised ? " asked Sadie,
watching the moving figures. " They look to me
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 55
just about the same tint as the hotel boys in the
" I thought some question might arise about
them," said Mr. Stephens, who was never so happy
as Avhen he could anticipate some wish of the
pretty American. " I made one or two references
this morning in the ship's library. Here it is —
re — that's to say, about black soldiers. I have it
on my notes that they are from the ioth
Soudanese battalion of the Egyptian army. They
are recruited from the Dinkas and the Shilluks
— two negroid tribes living to the south of the
Dervish country, near the Equator."
" How can the recruits come through the Der-
vishes, then ? " asked Headingly sharply.
" I dare say there is no such very great diffi-
culty over that," said Monsieur Fardet, with a
wink at the American.
" The older men are the remains of the old
black battalions. Some of them served with
Gordon at Khartoum, and have his medal to
show. The others are many of them deserters
from the Mahdi's army," said the Colonel.
"Well, so long as they are not wanted, they
56 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
look right elegant in those blue jackets," Miss
Adams observed. " But if there was any trouble,
I guess we would wish they were less ornamental
and a bit whiter."
"I am not so sure of that, Miss Adams," said
the Colonel. " I have seen these fellows in the
field, and I assure you that I have the utmost
confidence in their steadiness."
" Well, I'll take your word without trying,"
said Miss Adams, with a decision which made
every one smile.
So far their road had lain along the side of
the river, which was swirling down upon their left
hand deep and strong from the cataracts above.
Here and there the rush of the current was broken
by a black shining boulder over which the foam
was spouting. Higher up they could see the white
gleam of the rapids, and the banks grew into
rugged cliffs, which were capped by a peculiar,
outstanding, semicircular rock. It did not require
the dragoman's aid to tell the party that this was
the famous landmark to which they were bound.
A long, level stretch lay before them, and the
donkeys took it at a canter. At the farther side
HE POINTED UP WITH HIS DONKEY-WHIP.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 59
were scattered rocks, black upon orange ; and in
the midst of them rose some broken shafts of
pillars and a length of engraved wall, looking in
its greyness and its solidity more like some work
of Nature than of man. The fat, sleek dragoman
had dismounted, and stood waiting in his petti-
coats and his cover- coat for the stragglers to
gather round him.
" This temple, ladies and gentlemen," he cried,
with the air of an auctioneer who is about to sell
it to the highest bidder, " very fine example from
the eighteenth dynasty. Here is the cartouche
of Thotmes the Third," he pointed up with his
donkey-whip at the rude, but deep, hieroglyphics
upon the Avail above him. " He live sixteen
hundred years before Christ, and this is made to
remember his victorious exhibition into Meso-
potamia. Here we have his history from the
time that he was with his mother, until he return
with captives tied to his chariot. In this you
see him crowned with Lower Egypt, and with
Upper Egypt offering up sacrifice in honour of
his victory to the God Ammon-ra. Here he
bring his captives before him, and he cut off each
60 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
his right hand. In this corner you see little pile
— all right hands."
" My sakes, I shouldn't have liked to be here
in those days," said Miss Adams.
" Why, there's nothing altered," remarked Cecil
Brown. " The East is still the East. I've no
doubt that within a hundred miles, or perhaps a
good deal less, from where you stand "
" Shut up ! " whispered the Colonel, and the
party shuffled on down the line of the wall with
their faces up and their big hats thrown back-
wards. The sun behind them struck the old
grey masonry with a brassy glare, and carried on
to it the strange black shadows of the tourists,
mixing them up with the grim, high-nosed,
square-shouldered warriors, and the grotesque,
rigid deities who lined it. The broad shadow
of the Keverend John Stuart, of Birmingham,
smudged out both the heathen King and the god
whom he worshipped.
" What s this ? " he was asking in his wheezy
voice, pointing up with a yellow Assouan cane.
"That is a hippopotamus," said the drago-
man; and the tourists all tittered, for there
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 61
was just a suspicion of Mr. Stuart himself in the
" But it isn't bigger than a little pig," he pro-
tested. " You see that the King is putting his
spear through it with ease."
" They make it small to show that it was a
very small thing to the King," said the dragoman.
" So you see that all the King's prisoners do not
exceed his knee — which is not because he was so
much taller, but so much more powerful. You
see that he is bigger than his horse, because he is
a king and the other is only a horse. The same
way, these small women whom you see here and
there are just his trivial little wives."
" Well, now ! " cried Miss Adams indignantly.
" If they had sculped that King's soul it would
have needed a lens to see it. Fancy his allowing
his wives to be put in like that."
" If he did it now, Miss Adams," said the
Frenchman, " he would have more fighting than
ever in Mesopotamia. But time brings revenge.
Perhaps the day will soon come when we have
the picture of the big strong wife and the trivial
little husband — Twin ? "
62 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO
Cecil Brown and Headingly had dropped
behind, for the glib comments of the dragoman,
and the empty, light-hearted chatter of the
tourists jarred upon their sense of solemnity
They stood in silence watching the grotesque
procession, with its sun-hats and green veils, as
it passed in the vivid sunshine down the front
of the old grey wall.. Above them two crested
hoopoes were fluttering and calling amid the
ruins of the pylon.
" Isn't it a sacrilege ? " said the Oxford man
"Well, now, I'm glad you feel that about it,
because it's how it always strikes me," Headingly
answered with feeling. " I'm not quite clear in
my own mind how these things should be ap-
proached — if they are to be approached at all —
but I am sure this is not the way. On the
whole, I prefer the ruins that I have not seen to
those which I have."
The young diplomatist looked up with his
peculiarly bright smile, which faded away too
soon into his languid, blast mask.
" I've got a map," said the American, " and
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 63
sometimes far away from anything in the very
midst of the waterless, trackless desert, I see
1 ruins ' marked upon it — or ' remains of a temple,'
perhaps. For example, the temple of Jupiter
Amnion, which was one of the most considerable
shrines in the world, was hundreds of miles away
back of anywhere. Those are the ruins, solitary,
unseen, unchanging through the centuries, which
appeal to one's imagination. But when I pre-
sent a check at the door, and go in as if it were
Barnum's show, all the subtle feeling of romance
goes right out of it."
" Absolutely ! " said Cecil Brown, looking over
the desert with his dark, intolerant eyes. " If
one could come wandering here alone — stumble
upon it by chance, as it were — and find one's
self in absolute solitude in the dim light of the
temple, with these grotesque figures all round, it
would be perfectly overwhelming. A man would
be prostrated with wonder and awe. But when
Belmont is puffing his bulldog pipe, and Stuart
is wheezing, and Miss Sadie Adams is laugh-
" And that jay of a dragoman speaking his
64 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
piece," said Headingly ; " I want to stand and
think all the time, and I never seem to get the
chance. I was ripe for manslaughter when I
stood before the Great Pyramid, and couldn't get
a quiet moment because they would boost me on
to the top. I took a kick at one man which
would have sent him to the top in one jump if I
had hit meat. But fancy travelling all the way
from America to see the pyramid, and then
finding nothing better to do than to kick an
Arab in front of it ! "
The Oxford man laughed in his gentle, tired
fashion. " They are starting again," said he, and
the two hastened forwards to take their places at
the tail of the absurd procession.
Their route ran now among large, scattered
boulders, and between stony, shingly hills. A
narrow winding path curved in and out amongst
the rocks. Behind them their view was cut off
by similar hills, black and fantastic, like the slag-
heaps at the shaft of a mine. A silence fell
upon the little company, and even Sadie's bright
face reflected the harshness of Nature. The
escort had closed in, and marched beside them,
A SILENCE FELL UPON THE LITTLE COMPANY.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 67
their boots scrunching among the loose black
rubble. Colonel Cochrane and Belmont were
still riding together in the van.
" Do you know, Belmont," said the Colonel, in
a low voice, " you may think me a fool, but I
don't like this one little bit."
Belmont gave a short gruff laugh.
" It seemed all right in the saloon of the
Korosko, but now that we are here we do seem
rather up in the air," said he. " Still, you know,
a party comes here every week, and nothing has
ever gone wrong."
" I don't mind taking my chances when I am
on the war-path," the Colonel answered. " That's
all straightforward and in the way of business.
But when you have women with you, and a
helpless crowd like this, it becomes really dread-
ful. Of course, the chances are a hundred to
one that we have no trouble ; but if we should
have — well, it won't bear thinking about. The
wonderful thing is their complete unconsciousness
that there is any danger whatever."
"Well, I like the English tailor-made dresses
well enough for walking, Mr. Stephens," said Miss
G8 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
Sadie from behind them. " But for an afternoon
dress, I think the French have more style than
the English. Your milliners have a more severe
cut, and they don't do the cunning little ribbons
and bows and things in the same way."
The Colonel smiled at Belmont.
" She is quite serene in her mind, at any rate,"
said he. " Of course, I wouldn't say what I think
to any one but you, and I daresay it will all prove
to be quite unfounded."
" Well, I could imagine parties of Dervishes on
the prowl," said Belmont. " But what I cannot
imagine is that they should just happen to come
to the pulpit rock on the very morning when we
are due there."
" Considering that our movements have been
freely advertised, and that every one knows a
week beforehand what our programme is, and
where we are to be found, it does not strike me
as being such a wonderful coincidence."
" It is a very remote chance," said Belmont
stoutly, but he was glad in his heart that his wife
was safe and snug on board the steamer.
And now they were clear of the rocks again,
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 69
with a fine stretch of firm yellow sand extending
to the very base of the conical hill which lay
before them. " Ay-ah ! Ay-ah ! " cried the boys,
whack came their sticks upon the flanks of the
donkeys, which broke into a gallop, and away
they all streamed over the plain. It was not
until they had come to the end of the path
which curves up the hill that the dragoman
called a halt.
" Now, ladies and gentlemen, we are arrived
for the so famous pulpit rock of Abousir. From
the summit you will presently enjoy a panorama
of remarkable fertility. But first you will ob-
serve that over the rocky side of the hill are
everywhere cut the names of great men who
have passed it in their travels, and some of these
names are older than the time of Christ."
" Got Moses ? " asked Miss Adams.
" Auntie, I'm surprised at you ! " cried Sadie.
" Well, my dear, he was in Egypt, and he was
a great man, and he may have passed this way."
" Moses's name very likely there, and the same
with Herodotus," said the dragoman gravely.
" Both have been long worn away. But there on
70 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
the brown rock you will see Belzoni. And up
higher is Gordon. There is hardly a name
famous in the Soudan which you will not find,
if you like. And now, with your permission, we
shall take good-bye of our donkeys and walk up
the path, and you will see the river and the desert
from the summit of the top."
A minute or two of climbing brought them out
upon the semicircular platform which crowns the
rock. Below them on the far side was a perpen-
dicular black cliff, a hundred and fifty feet high,
with the swirling, foam-streaked river roaring
past its base. The swish of the water and the
low roar as it surged over the mid-stream boulders
boomed through the hot, stagnant air. Far up
and far down they could see the course of the
river, a quarter of a mile in breadth, and running
very deep and strong, with sleek black eddies
and occasional spoutings of foam. On the other
side was a frightful wilderness of black, scattered
rocks, which were the dibris carried down by the
river at high flood. In no direction were there
any signs of human beings or their dwellings.
" On the far side," said the dragoman, waving
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 71
his donkey- whip towards the east, "is the military
lino which conducts Wady Haifa to Sarras.
Sarras lies to the south, under that black hill.
Those two blue mountains which you see very
far away are in Dongola, more than a hundred
miles from Sarras. The railway there is forty
miles long, and has been much annoyed by the
Dervishes, who are very glad to turn the rails
into spears. The telegraph wires are also much
appreciated thereby. Now, if you will kindly
turn round, I will explain, also, what we see upon
the other side."
It was a view which, when once seen, must
always haunt the mind. Such an expanse of
savage and unrelieved desert might be part of
some cold and burned-out planet rather than of
this fertile and bountiful earth. Away and away
it stretched to die into a soft, violet haze in the
extremest distance. In the foreground the sand
was of a bright golden yellow, which was quite
dazzling in the sunshine. Here and there, in a
scattered cordon, stood the six trusty negro
soldiers leaning motionless upon their rifles, and
each throwing a shadow which looked as solid as
72 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
himself. But beyond this golden plain lay a low line
of those black slag-heaps, with yellow sand-valleys
winding between them. These in their turn
were topped by higher and more fantastic hills,
and these by others, peeping over each other's
shoulders until they blended with that distant
violet haze. None of these hills were of any
height — a few hundred feet at the most — but
their savage, saw-toothed crests, and their steep
scarps of sun-baked stone, gave them a fierce
character of their own.
" The Libyan Desert," said the dragoman, with
a proud wave of his hand. " The greatest desert
in the world. Suppose you travel right west
from here, and turn neither to the north nor to
the south, the first houses you would come to
would be in America. That make you home-
sick, Miss Adams, I believe ? "
But the American old maid had her attention
drawn away by the conduct of Sadie, who had
caught her arm by one hand and was pointing
over the desert with the other.
" Well, now, if that isn't too picturesque for
anything ! " she cried, with a flush of excitement
THEY LOOKED AT THE LONG STRING OF RED-TURBANED RIDERS.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 75
upon her pretty face. " Do look, Mr. Stephens !
That's just the one only thing we wanted to make
it just perfectly grand. See the men upon the
camels coming out from between those hills ! "
They all looked at the long string of red-
turbaned riders who were winding out of the
ravine, and there fell such a hush that the buz-
zing of the flies sounded quite loud upon their
ears. Colonel Cochrane had lit a match, and
he stood with it in one hand and the unlit
cigarette in the other until the flame licked
round his fingers. Belmont whistled. The drago-
man stood staring with his mouth half-open, and
a curious slaty tint in his full, red lips. The
others looked from one to the other with an
uneasy sense that there was something wrong.
It was the Colonel who broke the silence.
"By George, Belmont, I believe the hundred-
to-one chance has come off ! " said he.
" What's the meaning of this, Mansoor ? " cried
Belmont harshly. " Who are these people, and
why are you standing staring as if you had lost
your senses ? "
The dragoman made an effort to compose him-
self, and licked his dry lips before he answered.
" I do not know who they are," said he in a
"Who they are?" cried the Frenchman. " You
can see who they are. They are armed men
upon camels, Ababdeh, Bishareen — Bedouins, in
short, such as are employed by the Government
upon the frontier."
"Be Jove, he may be right, Cochrane," said
Belmont, looking inquiringly at the Colonel.
" Why shouldn't it be as he says ? why shouldn't
these fellows be friendlies ? "
" There are no friendlies upon this side of the
river," said the Colonel abruptly ; " I am per-
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 77
fectly certain about that. There is no use in
mincing matters. We must prepare for the worst."
But in spite of his words, they stood stock-
still, in a huddled group, staring out over the
plain. Their nerves were numbed by the sudden
shock, and to all of them it was like a scene
in a dream, vague, impersonal, and unreal. The
men upon the camels had streamed out from
a gorge which lay a mile or so distant on the
side of the path along which they had travelled.
Their retreat, therefore, was entirely cut off. It
appeared, from the dust and the length of the
line, to be quite an army which was emerging
from the hills, for seventy men upon camels
cover a considerable stretch of ground. Having
reached the sandy plain, they very deliberately
formed to the front, and then at the harsh call
of a bugle they trotted forward in line, the parti-
coloured figures all swaying and the sand smok-
ing in a rolling yellow cloud at the heels of
their camels. At the same moment the six
black soldiers doubled in from the front with
their Martinis at the trail, and snuggled down
like well - trained skirmishers behind the rocks
78 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
upon the haunch of the hill. Their breech
blocks all snapped together as their corporal gave
them the order to load.
And now suddenly the first stupor of the ex-
cursionists passed away, and was succeeded by a
frantic and impotent energy. They all ran about
upon the plateau of rock in an aimless, foolish
flurry, like frightened fowls in a yard. They
could not bring themselves to acknowledge that
there was no possible escape for them. Again
and again they rushed to the edge of the great
cliff which rose from the river, but the youngest
and most daring of them could never have de-
scended it. The two women clung one on each
side of the trembling Mansoor, with a feeling that
he was officially responsible for their safety.
When he ran up and down in his despera-
tion, his skirts and theirs all fluttered together.
Stephens, the lawyer, kept close to Sadie Adams,
muttering mechanically, " Don't be alarmed, Miss
Sadie ; don't be at all alarmed ! " though his own
limbs were twitching with agitation. Monsieur
Fardet stamped about with a guttural rolling of
r's, glancing angrily at his companions as if they
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 79
had in some way betrayed him ; while the fat
clergyman stood with his umbrella up, staring
stolidly with big, frightened eyes at the camel-
men. Cecil Brown curled his small, prim mous-
tache, and looked white, but contemptuous. The
Colonel, Belmont, and the young Harvard graduate
were the three most cool-headed and resourceful
members of the party.
" Better stick together," said the Colonel.
" There's no escape for us, so we may as well
" They've halted," said Belmont.
"They are reconnoitring us. They know very
well that there is no escape from them, and they are
taking their time. I don't see what we can do."
" Suppose we hide the women," Headingly sug-
gested. " They can't know how many of us are
here. When they have taken us, the women can
come out of their hiding-place and make their
way back to the boat."
"Admirable!" cried Colonel Cochrane. "Ad-
mirable ! This way, please, Miss Adams. Bring
the ladies here, Mansoor. There is not an instant
to be lost."
80 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
There was a part of the plateau which was
invisible from the plain, and here in feverish
haste they built a little cairn. Many flaky slabs
of stone were lying about, and it did not take
long to prop the largest of these against a rock,
so as to make a lean-to, and then to put two side-
pieces to complete it. The slabs were of the
same colour as the rock, so that to a casual
glance the hiding-place was not very visible.
The two ladies were squeezed into this, and they
crouched together, Sadie's arms thrown round her
aunt. When they had walled them up, the men
turned with lighter hearts to see what was going
on. As they did so there rang out the sharp, per-
emptory crack of a rifle-shot from the escort, fol-
lowed by another and another, but these isolated
shots were drowned in the long, spattering roll
of an irregular volley from the plain, and the
air was full of the phit-phit-phit of the bullets.
The tourists all huddled behind the rocks, with
the exception of the Frenchman, who still
stamped angrily about, striking his sun-hat with
his clenched hand. Belmont and Cochrane
crawled down to where the Soudanese soldiers
YOU DO NO GOOD BY EXPOSING YOURSELF."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 83
were firing slowly and steadily, resting their rifles
upon the boulders in front of them.
The Arabs had halted about five hundred yards
away, and it was evident from their leisurely
movements that they were perfectly aware that
there was no possible escape for the travellers.
They had paused to ascertain their number be-
fore closing in upon them. Most of them were
firing from the backs of their camels, but a few
had dismounted and were kneeling here and
there — little shimmering white spots against the
golden background. Their shots came some-
times singly in quick, sharp throbs, and some-
times in a rolling volley, with a sound like a
boy's stick drawn across iron railings. The
hill buzzed like a bee-hive, and the bullets
made a sharp crackling as they struck against the
"You do no good by exposing yourself," said
Belmont, drawing Colonel Cochrane behind a
large jagged boulder, which already furnished a
shelter for three of the Soudanese.
"A bullet is the best we have to hope for,"
said Cochrane grimly. "What an infernal fool
84 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
I have been, Belmont, not to protest more ener-
getically against this ridiculous expedition ! 1
deserve whatever I get, but it is hard on these
poor souls who never knew the danger."
" I suppose there's no help for us ? "
" Not the faintest."
" Don't you think this firing might bring the
troops up from Haifa ? "
" They'll never hear it. It is a good six miles
from here to the steamer. From that to Haifa
would be another five."
" Well, when we don't return, the steamer will
give the alarm."
" And where shall we be by that time ? "
" My poor Norah ! My poor little Norah ! "
muttered Belmont, in the depths of his grizzled
" What do you suppose that they will do with
us, Cochrane ? " he asked after a pause.
" They may cut our throats, or they may take
us as slaves to Khartoum. I don't know that
there is much to choose. There's one of us out
of his troubles anyhow."
The soldier next them had sat down abruptly,
THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 85
and leaned forward over his knees. His move-
ment and attitude were so natural that it was
hard to realise that he had been shot through
the head. He neither stirred nor groaned. His
comrades bent over him for a moment, and
then, shrugging their shoulders, they turned
their dark faces to the Arabs once more. Bel-
mont picked up the dead man's Martini and his
" Only three more rounds, Cochrane," said he,
with the little brass cylinders upon the palm of
his hand. "We've let them shoot too soon, and
too often. We should have waited for the rush."
"You're a famous shot, Belmont," cried the
Colonel. " I've heard of you as one of the cracks.
Don't you think you could pick off their leader ? "
" Which is he ? "
" As far as I can make out, it is that one on
the white camel on their right front. I mean
the fellow who is peering at us from under his
Belmont thrust in his cartridge and altered
the sights. " It's a shocking bad light for judg-
ing distance," said he. " This is where the low
86 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
point-blank trajectory of the Lee-Metford comes
in useful. Well, we'll try him at five hundred."
He fired, but there was no change in the white
camel or the peering rider.
" Did you see any sand fly ? "
" No, I saw nothing."
" I fancy I took my sight a trifle too full."
" Try him again."
Man and rifle and rock were equally steady,
but again the camel and chief remained un-
harmed. The third shot must have been nearer,
for he moved a few paces to the right, as if he
were becoming restless. Belmont threw the
empty rifle down, with an exclamation of disgust.
" It's this confounded light," he cried, and his
cheeks flushed with annoyance. " Think of my
wasting three cartridges in that fashion ! If I
had him at Bisley I'd shoot the turban off him,
but this vibrating glare means refraction. What's
the matter with the Frenchman ? "
Monsieur Fardet was stamping about the pla-
teau with the gestures of a man who has been
stung by a wasp. " 8cr6 nom ! S'crd nom ! " he
shouted, showing his strong white teeth under
I M DONE ! HE WHISPERED.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 89
his black waxed moustache. He wrung his right
hand violently, and as he did so he sent a little
spray of blood from his finger-tips. A bullet had
chipped his wrist. Headingly ran out from the
cover where he had been crouching, with the
intention of dragging the demented Frenchman
into a place of safety, but he had not taken three
paces before he was himself hit in the loins, and
fell with a dreadful crash among the stones. He
staggered to his feet, and then fell again in the
same place, floundering up and down like a horse
which has broken its back. " I'm done ! " he
whispered, as the Colonel ran to his aid, and
then he lay still, with his china-white cheek
against the black stones. When, but a year before,
he had wandered under the elms of Cambridge,
surely the last fate upon this earth which he
could have predicted for himself would be that
he should be slain by the bullet of a fanatical
Mohammedan in the wilds of the Libyan Desert.
Meanwhile the fire of the escort had ceased,
for they had shot away their last cartridge. A
second man had been killed, and a third — who
was the corporal in charge — had received a bullet
90 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
in his thigh. He sat upon a stone, tying up his
injury with a grave, preoccupied look upon his
wrinkled black face, like an old woman piecing
together a broken plate. The three others
fastened their bayonets with a determined
metallic rasp and snap, and the air of men
who intended to sell their lives dearly.
" They're coming ! " cried Belmont, looking
over the plain.
" Let them come ! " the Colonel answered,
putting his hands into his trouser-pockets.
Suddenly he pulled one fist out, and shook it
furiously in the air. " Oh, the cads ! the con-
founded cads ! " he shouted, and his eyes were
congested with rage.
It was the fate of the poor donkey-boys which
had carried the self-contained soldier out of his
usual calm. During the firing they had remained
huddled, a pitiable group, among the rocks at the
base of the hill. Now upon the conviction that
the charge of the Dervishes must come first upon
them, they had sprung upon their animals with
shrill, inarticulate cries of fear, and had galloped
off across the plain. A small flanking-party of
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 91
eight or ten camel-men had worked round while
the firing had been going on, and these dashed
in among the flying donkey-boys, hacking and
hewing with a cold-blooded, deliberate ferocity.
One little boy, in a flapping Galabeeah, kept
ahead of his pursuers for a time, but the long
stride of the camels ran him down, and an Arab
thrust his spear into the middle of his stooping
back. The small, white -clad corpses looked like
a flock of sheep trailing over the desert.
But the people upon the rock had no time
to think of the cruel fate of the donkey-boys.
Even the Colonel, after that first indignant out-
burst, had forgotten all about them. The advanc-
ing camel- men had trotted to the bottom of the
hill, had dismounted, and leaving their camels
kneeling, had rushed furiously onward. Fifty of
them were clambering up the path and over the
rocks together, their red turbans appearing and
vanishing again as they scrambled over the
boulders. Without a shot or a pause they
surged over the three black soldiers, killing ono
and stamping the other two down under their
hurrying feet. So they burst on to the plateau
92 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOEOSKO
at the top, where an unexpected resistance checked
them for an instant.
The travellers, nestling up against one another,
had awaited, each after his own fashion, the com-
ing of the Arabs. The Colonel, with his hands
back in his trouser-pockets, tried to whistle out
of his dry lips. Belmont folded his arms and
leaned against a rock, with a sulky frown upon
his lowering face. So strangely do our minds
act that his three successive misses, and the
tarnish to his reputation as a marksman, was
troubling him more than his impending fate.
Cecil Brown stood erect, and plucked nervously
at the upturned points of his little prim mous-
tache. Monsieur Fardet groaned over his wounded
wrist. Mr. Stephens, in sombre impotence, shook
his head slowly, the living embodiment of prosaic
law and order. Mr. Stuart stood, his umbrella
still over him, with no expression upon his heavy
face, or in his staring brown eyes. Headingly
lay with that china-white cheek resting motion-
less upon the stones. His sun-hat had fallen off,
and he looked quite boyish with his ruffled yellow
hair and his unlined, clean-cut face. The drago-
HE STRUCK AT THE SHRINKING, SNARLING SAVAGES.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 95
man sat upon a stone and played nervously
with his donkey -whip. So the Arabs found
them when they reached the summit of the
And then, just as the foremost rushed to lay
hands upon them, a most unexpected incident
arrested them. From the time of the first
appearance of the Dervishes the fat clergyman
of Birmingham had looked like a man in a cata-
leptic trance. He had neither moved nor spoken.
But now he suddenly woke at a bound into strenu-
ous and heroic energy. It may have been the
mania of fear, or it may have been the blood
of some Berserk ancestor which stirred suddenly
in his veins ; but he broke into a wild shout,
and, catching up a stick, he struck right and
left among the Arabs with a fury which was
more savage than their own. One who helped
to draw up this narrative has left it upon record
that, of all the pictures which have been burned
into his brain, there is none so clear as that of
this man, his large face shining with perspiration,
and his great body dancing about with unwieldy
agility, as he struck at the shrinking, snarling
96 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO
savages. Then a spear-head flashed from behind
a rock with a quick, vicious, upward thrust, the
clergyman fell upon his hands and knees, and
the horde poured over him to seize their un-
resisting victims. Knives glimmered before their
eyes, rude hands clutched at their wrists and
at their throats, and then, with brutal and un-
reasoning violence, they were hauled and pushed
down the steep winding path to where the camels
were waiting below. The Frenchman waved his
unwounded hand as he walked. " Vive le Khalifa!
Vive le Madhi ! " he shouted, until a blow from
behind with the butt-end of a Remington beat
him into silence.
And now they were herded in at the base of
the Abousir rock, this little group of modern
types who had fallen into the rough clutch of
the seventh century — for in all save the rifles
in their hands there was nothing to distinguish
these men from the desert warriors who first
carried the crescent flag out of Arabia. The
East does not change, and the Dervish raiders
were not less brave, less cruel, or less fanatical
than their forebears. They stood in a circle,
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 97
leaning upon their guns and spears, and looking
with exultant eyes at the dishevelled group of
captives. They were clad in some approach to
a uniform, red turbans gathered around the neck
as well as the head, so that the fierce face looked
out of a scarlet frame ; yellow, untanned shoes,
and white tunics with square brown patches let
into them. All carried rifles, and one had a
small discoloured bugle slung over his shoulder.
Half of them were negroes — fine, muscular men,
with the limbs of a jet Hercules ; and the other
half were Baggara Arabs — small, brown, and wiry,
with little, vicious eyes, and thin, cruel lips. The
chief was also a Baggara, but he was a taller man
than the others, with a black beard which came
down over his chest, and a pair of hard, cold
eyes, Avhich gleamed like glass from under his
thick, black brows. They were fixed now upon
his captives, and his features were grave with
thought. Mr. Stuart had been brought down,
his hat gone, his face still flushed with anger,
and his trousers sticking in one part to his leg.
The two surviving Soudanese soldiers, their black
faces and blue coats blotched with crimson, stood
98 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
silently at attention upon one side of this forlorn
group of castaways.
The chief stood for some minutes, stroking his
black beard, while his fierce eyes glanced from
one pale face to another along the miserable line
of his captives. In a harsh, imperious voice
he said something which brought Mansoor, the
dragoman, to the front, with bent back and out-
stretched supplicating palms. To his employers
there had always seemed to be something comic
in that napping skirt and short cover-coat above
it ; but now, under the glare of the mid-day sun,
with those faces gathered round them, it appeared
rather to add a grotesque horror to the scene.
The dragoman salaamed and salaamed like some
ungainly automatic doll, and then, as the chief
rasped out a curt word or two, he fell suddenly
upon his face, rubbing his forehead into the sand,
and napping upon it with his hands.
" What's that, Cochrane ? " asked Belmont.
" Why is he making an exhibition of himself ? "
" As far as I can understand, it is all up with
us," the Colonel answered.
"But this is absurd," cried the Frenchman
HE FELL SUDDENLY UPON HIS FACE.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 101
excitedly ; " why should these people wish any
harm to me ? I have never injured them. On
the other hand, I have always been their friend.
If I could but speak to them, I would make them
comprehend. Hola, dragoman, Mansoor ! "
The excited gestures of Monsieur Fardet drew
the sinister eyes of the Baggara chief upon him.
Again he asked a curt question, and Mansoor,
kneeling in front of him, answered it.
" Tell him that I am a Frenchman, dragoman.
Tell him that I am a friend of the Khalifa. Tell
him that my countrymen have never had any
quarrel with him, but that his enemies are also
" The chief asks what religion you call your
own," said Mansoor. " The Khalifa, he says, has
no necessity for any friendship from those who
are infidels and unbelievers."
"Tell him that in France we look upon all
religions as good."
" The chief says that none but a blaspheming
dog and the son of a dog would say that all
religions are one as good as the other. He says
that if you are indeed the friend of the Khalifa,
102 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
you will accept the Koran and become a true
believer upon the spot. If you will do so he
will promise on his side to send you alive to
" And if not ? "
"You will fare in the same way as the
" Then you may make my compliments to
monsieur the chief, and tell him that it is not
the custom for Frenchmen to change their re-
ligion under compulsion."
The chief said a few words, and then turned
to consult with a short, sturdy Arab at his
" He says, Monsieur Fardet," said the drago-
man, " that if you speak again he will make a
trough out of you for the dogs to feed from.
Say nothing to anger him, sir, for he is now
talking what is to be done with us."
" Who is he ? " asked the Colonel.
" It is Ali Wad Ibrahim, the same who raided
last year, and killed all of the Nubian village."
" I've heard of him," said the Colonel. " He
has the name of being one of the boldest and
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 103
the most fanatical of all the Khalifa's leaders.
Thank God that the women are out of his
The two Arabs had been talking in that stern,
restrained fashion which comes so strangely from
a southern race. Now they both turned to the
dragoman, who was still kneeling upon the sand.
They plied him with questions, pointing first to
one and then to another of their prisoners. Then
they conferred together once more, and finally
said something to Mansoor, with a contemptuous
wave of the hand to indicate that he might convey
it to the others.
" Thank Heaven, gentlemen, I think that we
are saved for the present time," said Mansoor,
wiping away the sand which had stuck to his
perspiring forehead. "Ali Wad Ibrahim says
that though an unbeliever should have only the
edge of the sword from one of the sons of the
Prophet, yet it might be of more profit to the
beit-el-mal at Omdurman if it had the gold
which your people will pay for you. Until it
comes you can work as the slaves of the Khalifa,
unless he should decide to put you to death.
104 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
You are to mount yourselves upon the spare
camels and to ride with the party."
The chief had waited for the end of the ex-
planation. Now he gave a brief order, and a
negro stepped forward with a long, dull-coloured
sword in his hand. The dragoman squealed like
a rabbit who sees a ferret, and threw himself
frantically down upon the sand once more.
" What is it, Cochrane ? " asked Cecil Brown —
for the Colonel had served in the East, and was
the only one of the travellers who had a smatter-
ing of Arabic.
"As far as I can make out, he says there is
no use keeping the dragoman, as no one would
trouble to pay a ransom for him, and he is too
fat to make a good slave."
" Poor devil ! " cried Brown. " Here, Cochrane,
tell them to let him go. We can't let him be
butchered like this in front of us. Say that
we will find the money amongst us. I will be
answerable for any reasonable sum."
" I'll stand in as far as my means will allow,"
"We will sign a joint bond or indemnity,"
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 105
said the lawyer. " If I had a paper and pencil
I could throw it into shape in an instant, and
the chief could rely upon its being perfectly
correct and valid."
But the Colonel's Arabic was insufficient, and
Mansoor himself was too maddened by fear to
understand the offer which was being made for
him. The negro looked a question at the chief,
and then his long black arm swung upwards
and his sword hissed over his shoulder. But
the dragoman had screamed out something
which arrested the blow, and which brought the
chief and the lieutenant to his side with a new
interest upon their swarthy faces. The others
crowded in also, and formed a dense circle around
the grovelling, pleading man.
The Colonel had not understood this sudden
change, nor had the others fathomed the reason
of it, but some instinct flashed it upon Stephens's
" Oh, you villain ! " he cried furiously. " Hold
your tongue, you miserable creature ! Be silent !
Better die — a thousand times better die ! "
But it was too late, and already they could all
106 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
see the base design by which the coward hoped
to save his own life. He was about to betray
the women. They saw the chief, with a brave
man's contempt upon his stern face, make a sign
of haughty assent, and then Mansoor spoke
rapidly and earnestly, pointing up the hill. At
a word from the Baggara, a dozen of the raiders
rushed up the path and were lost to view upon
the top. Then came a shrill cry, a horrible
strenuous scream of surprise and terror, and an
instant later the party streamed into sight again,
dragging the women in their midst. Sadie, with
her young, active limbs, kept up with them,
as they sprang down the slope, encouraging her
aunt all the while over her shoulder. The older
lady, struggling amid the rushing white figures,
looked with her thin limbs and open mouth like
a chicken being dragged from a coop.
The chiefs dark eyes glanced indifferently
at Miss Adams, but gazed with a smouldering
fire at the younger woman. Then he gave an
abrupt order, and the prisoners were hurried in a
miserable, hopeless drove to the cluster of kneel-
ing camels. Their pockets had already been
THE PARTY STREAMED INTO SIGHT AGAIN.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 109
ransacked, and the contents thrown into one
of the camel-food bags, the neck of which was
tied up by Ali Wad Ibrahim's own hands.
" I say, Cochrane," whispered Belmont, looking
with smouldering eyes at the wretched Mansoor,
" I've got a little hip revolver which they have
not discovered. Shall I shoot that cursed drago-
man for giving away the women ? "
The Colonel shook his head.
" You had better keep it," said he, with a
sombre face. " The women may find some other
use for it before all is over."
The camels, some brown and some white, were
kneeling in a long line, their champing jaws
moving rhythmically from side to side, and their
gracefully poised heads turning to right and left
in a mincing, self-conscious fashion. Most of
them were beautiful creatures, true Arabian
trotters, with the slim limbs and finely turned
necks which mark the breed ; but among them
were a few of the slower, heavier beasts, with un-
groomed skins, disfigured by the black scars of
old firings. These were loaded with the doora
and the waterskins of the raiders, but a few
minutes sufficed to redistribute their loads and
to make place for the prisoners. ' None of these
had been bound with the exception of Mr. Stuart
— for the Arabs, understanding that he was a
clergyman, and accustomed to associate religion
with violence, had looked upon his fierce outburst
as quite natural, and regarded him now as the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 111
most dangerous and enterprising of their captives.
His hands were therefore tied together with a
plaited camel-halter, but the others, including
the dragoman and the two wounded blacks, were
allowed to mount without any precaution against
their escape, save that which was afforded by the
slowness of their beasts. Then, with a shouting
of men and a roaring of camels, the creatures
were jolted on to their legs, and the long,
straggling procession set off with its back to the
homely river, and its face to the shimmering,
violet haze, which hung round the huge sweep
of beautiful, terrible desert, striped tiger- fashion
with black rock and with golden sand.
None of the white prisoners, with the exception
of Colonel Cochrane, had ever been upon a camel
before. It seemed an alarming distance to the
ground when they looked down, and the curious
swaying motion, with the insecurity of the saddle,
made them sick and frightened. But their bodily
discomfort was forgotten in the turmoil of bitter
thoughts within. What a chasm gaped between
their old life and their new ! And yet how short
was the time and space which divided theml
112 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
Less than an hour ago they had stood upon the
summit of that rock, and had laughed and chat-
tered, or grumbled at the heat and flies, becoming
peevish at small discomforts. Headingly had been
hypercritical over the tints of Nature. They could
not forget his own tint as he lay with his cheek
upon the black stone. Sadie had chattered about
tailor-made dresses and Parisian chiffons. Now
she was clinging, half-crazy, to the pommel of
a wooden saddle, with suicide rising as a red
star of hope in her mind. Humanity, reason,
argument — all were gone, and there remained
the brutal humiliation of force. And all the
time, down there by the second rocky point,
their steamer was waiting for them — their saloon,
with the white napery and the glittering glasses,
the latest novel, and the London papers. The
least imaginative of them could see it so clearly :
the white awning, Mrs. Shlesinger with her yellow
sun-hat, Mrs. Belmont lying back in the canvas
chair. There it lay almost in sight of them,
that little floating chip broken off from home,
and every silent, ungainly step of the camels
was carrying them more hopelessly away from
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 113
it. That very morning how beneficent Pro-
vidence had appeared, how pleasant -was life ! —
a little commonplace, perhaps, but so soothing
and restful. And now !
The red head-gear, patched jibbehs, and yellow
boots had already shown to the Colonel that these
men were no wandering party of robbers, but a
troop from the regular army of the Khalifa.
Now, as they struck across the desert, they showed
that they possessed the rude discipline which
their work demanded. A mile ahead, and far
out on either flank, rode their scouts, dipping and
rising among the yellow sand-hills. Ali Wad
Ibrahim headed the caravan, and his short, sturdy
lieutenant brought up the rear. The main party
straggled over a couple of hundred yards, and
in the middle was the little, dejected clump of
prisoners. No attempt was made to keep them
apart, and Mr. Stephens soon contrived that his
camel should be between those of the two
" Don't be down-hearted, Miss Adams," said he.
" This is a most indefensible outrage, but there
can be no question that steps will be taken in the
114 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO
proper quarter to set the matter right. I am
convinced that we shall be subjected to nothing
worse than a temporary inconvenience. If it had
not been for that villain Mansoor, you need not
have appeared at all."
It was shocking to see the change in the little
Bostonian lady, for she had shrunk to an old
woman in an hour. Her swarthy cheeks had
fallen in, and her eyes shone wildly from sunken,
darkened sockets. Her frightened glances were
continually turned upon Sadie. There is surely
some wrecker angel which ,can only gather her
best treasures in moments of disaster. For here
were all these worldlings going to their doom,
and already frivolity and selfishness had passed
away from them, and each was thinking and
grieving only for the other. Sadie thought of
her aunt, her aunt thought of Sadie, the men
thought of the women, Belmont thought of his
wife — and then he thought of something else
also, and he kicked his camel's shoulder with his
heel, until he found himself upon the near side of
"I've got something for you here," he whispered.
pon't miss your grip of it.
THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOBOSKO 117
" We may be separated soon, so it is as well to
make our arrangements.
" Separated ! " wailed Miss Adams.
" Don't speak loud, for that infernal Mansoor
may give us away again. I hope it won't be so,
but it might. We must be prepared for the
worst. For example, they might determine to
get rid of us men and to keep you."
Miss Adams shuddered.
" What am I to do ? For God's sake tell me
what I am to do, Mr. Belmont ! I am an old
woman. I have had my day. I could stand it
if it was only myself. But Sadie — I am clean
crazed when I think of her. There's her mother
waiting at home, and I ." She clasped her
thin hands together in the agony of her thoughts.
" Put your hand out under your dust-cloak,"
said Belmont, sidling his camel up against hers.
" Don't miss your grip of it. There ! Now hide
it in your dress, and you'll always have a key to
unlock any door."
Miss Adams felt what it was which he had
slipped into her hand, and she looked at him for
a moment in bewilderment. Then she pursed
118 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
up her lips and shook her stern, brown face in
disapproval. But she pushed the little pistol into
its hiding-place, all the same, and she rode with
her thoughts in a whirl. Could this indeed be
she, Eliza Adams, of Boston, whose narrow, happy
life had oscillated between the comfortable house
in Commonwealth Avenue and the Tremont Pres-
byterian Church ? Here she was, hunched upon
a camel, with her hand upon the butt of a pistol,
and her mind weighing the justifications of
murder. Oh, life, sly, sleek, treacherous life,
how are we ever to trust you ? Show us your
worst and we can face it, but it is when you
are sweetest and smoothest that we have most
to fear from you.
" At the worst, Miss Sadie, it will only be a
question of ransom," said Stephens, arguing
against his own convictions. " Besides, we are
still close to Egypt, far away from the Dervish
country. There is sure to be an energetic
pursuit. You must try not to lose your courage,
and to hope for the best."
"No, I am not scared, Mr. Stephens," said
Sadie, turning towards him a blanched face which
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOBOSKO 119
belied her words. " We're all in God's hands, and
surely He won't be cruel to us. It is easy to talk
about trusting Him when things are going well,
but now is the real test. If He's up there behind
that blue heaven "
" He is," said a voice behind them, and they
found that the Birmingham clergyman had joined
the party. His tied hands clutched on to his
Makloofa saddle, and his fat body swayed danger-
ously from side to side with every stride of the
camel. His wounded leg was oozing with blood
and clotted with flies, and the burning desert sun
beat down upon his bare head, for he had lost
both hat and umbrella in the scuffle. A rising
fever flecked his large, white cheeks with a touch
of colour, and brought a light into his brown ox-
eyes. He had always seemed a somewhat gross
and vulgar person to his fellow-travellers. Now,
this bitter healing draught of sorrow had trans-
formed him. He was purified, spiritualised, ex-
alted. He had become so calmly strong that he
made the others feel stronger as they looked upon
him. He spoke of life and of death, of the
present, and their hopes of the future ; and the
120 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO
black cloud of their misery began to show a
golden rift or two. Cecil Brown shrugged his
shoulders, for he could not change in an hour the
convictions of his life ; but the others, even Fardet,
the Frenchman, were touched and strengthened.
They all took off their hats when he prayed.
Then the Colonel made a turban out of his red
silk cummerbund, and insisted that Mr. Stuart
should wear it. With his homely dress and
gorgeous headgear, he looked like a man who
has dressed up to amuse the children.
And now the dull, ceaseless, insufferable tor-
ment of thirst was added to the aching weariness
which came from the motion of the camels. The
sun glared down upon them, and then up again
from the yellow sand, and the great plain shim-
mered and glowed until they felt as if they were
riding over a cooling sheet of molten metal.
Their lips were parched and dried, and their
tongues like tags of leather. They lisped curi-
ously in their speech, for it was only the vowel
sounds which would come without an effort.
Miss Adams's chin had dropped upon her chest,
and her great hat concealed her face.
TIPPY TILLY," SAID HE.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 123
"Auntie will faint if she does not get water,"
said Sadie. " Oh, Mr. Stephens, is there nothing
we could do ? "
The Dervishes riding near were all Baggara
with the exception of one negro — an uncouth
fellow with a face pitted with smallpox. His
expression seemed good-natured when compared
with that of his Arab comrades, and Stephens
ventured to touch his elbow and to point to his
water-skin, and then to the exhausted lady. • The
negro shook his head brusquely, but at the same
time he glanced significantly towards the Arabs,
as if to say that, if it were not for them, he
might act differently. Then he laid his black
forefinger upon the breast of his jibbeh.
" Tippy Tilly," said he.
" What's that ? " asked Colonel Cochrane.
" Tippy Tilly," repeated the negro, sinking his
voice as if he wished only the prisoners to hear
The Colonel shook his head.
" My Arabic won't bear much strain. I don't
know what he is saying," said he.
" Tippy Tilly. Hicks Pasha," the negro repeated.
124 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" I believe the fellow is friendly to us, but
I can't quite make him out," said Cochrane to
Belmont. "Do you think that he means that
his name is Tippy Tilly, and that he killed Hicks
Pasha ? "
The negro showed his great white teeth at
hearing his own words coming back to him.
" Aiwa ! " said he. " Tippy Tilly — Bimbashi
Mormer — Bourn ! "
" By Jove, I've got it ! " cried Belmont. " He's
trying to speak English. Tippy Tilly is as near
as he can get to Egyptian Artillery. He has
served in the Egyptian Artillery under Bimbashi
Mortimer. He was taken prisoner when Hicks
Pasha was destroyed, and had to turn Dervish to
save his skin. How's that ? "
The Colonel said a few words of Arabic and
received a reply, but two of the Arabs closed up,
and the negro quickened his pace and left them.
" You are quite right," said the Colonel. " The
fellow is friendly to us, and would rather fight for
the Khedive than for the Khalifa. I don't know
that he can do us any good, but I've been in
worse holes than this, and come out right side
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 125
up. After all, we are not out of reach of pursuit,
and won't be for another forty-eight hours."
Belmont calculated the matter out in his slow,
" It was about twelve that we were on the
rock," said he. " They would become alarmed
aboard the steamer if we did not appear at two."
"Yes," the Colonel interrupted, "that was to
be our lunch hour. I remember saymg that
when I came back I would have — O Lord, it's
best not to think of it ! "
" The reis was a sleepy old crock," Belmont
continued, " but I have absolute confidence in
the promptness and decision of my wife. She
would insist upon an immediate alarm being
given. Suppose they started back at two-thirty,
they should be at Haifa by three, since the
journey is down stream. How long did they
say that it took to turn out the Camel Corps ? "
" Give them an hour."
" And another hour to get them across the
river. They would be at the Abousir Rock and
pick up the tracks by six o'clock. After that
it is a clear race. We are only four hours
126 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
ahead, and some of these beasts are very spent.
We may be saved yet, Cochrane ! "
" Some of us may. I don't expect to see the
padre alive to-morrow, nor Miss Adams either.
They are not made for this sort of thing either
of them. Then again we must not forget that
these people have a trick of murdering their
prisoners when they see that there is a chance
of a rescue. See here, Belmont, in case you get
back and I don't, there's a matter of a mortgage
that I want you to set right for me." They rode
on with their shoulders inclined to each other,
deep in the details of business.
The friendly negro who had talked of himself
as Tippy Tilly had managed to slip a piece of
cloth soaked in water into the hand of Mr.
Stephens, and Miss Adams had moistened her
lips with it. Even the few drops had given
her renewed strength, and now that the first
crushing shock was over, her wiry, elastic, Yankee
nature began to reassert itself.
" These people don't look as if they would
harm us, Mr. Stephens," said she. " I guess
they have a working religion of their own, such
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 127
as it is, and that what's wrong to us is wrong
Stephens shook his head in silence. He had
seen the death of the donkey-boys, and she had
" Maybe we are sent to guide them into a
better path," said the old lady. " Maybe we are
specially singled out for a good work among
If it were not for her niece her energetic and
enterprising temperament was capable of glory-
ing in the chance of evangelising Khartoum, and
turning Omdurman into a little well-drained
broad-avenued replica of a New England town.
" Do you know what I am thinking of all
the time ? " said Sadie. " You remember that
temple that we saw— when was it ? Why, it
was this morning."
They gave an exclamation of surprise, all three
of them. Yes, it had been this morning; and
it seemed away and away in some dim past
experience of their lives, so vast was the change,
so new and so overpowering the thoughts which
had come between. They rode in silence, full
128 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
of this strange expansion of time, until at last
Stephens reminded Sadie that she had left her
" Oh yes ; it was the wall picture on that
temple that I was thinking of. Do you remem-
ber the poor string of prisoners who are being
dragged along to the feet of the great king —
how dejected they looked among the warriors
who led them ? Who could — who could have
thought that within three hours the same fate
should be our own ? And Mr. Headingly ,"
she turned her face away and began to cry.
" Don't take on, Sadie," said her aunt ; " re-
member what the minister said just now, that
we are all right there in the hollow of God's
hand. Where do you think we are going, Mr.
Stephens 1 "
The red edge of his Baedeker still projected
from the lawyer's pocket, for it had not been
worth their captor's while to take it. He glanced
down at it.
" If they will only leave me this, I will look
up a few references when we halt. I have a
general idea of the country, for I drew a small
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 129
map of it the other day. The river runs from
south to north, so we must be travelling almost
due west. I suppose they feared pursuit if they
kept too near the Nile bank. There is a caravan
route, I remember, which runs parallel to the
river, about seventy miles inland. If we continue
in this direction for a day we ought to come to
it. There is a line of wells through which it
passes. It comes out at Assiout, if I remember
right, upon the Egyptian side. On the other
side, it leads away into the Dervish country —
so, perhaps — — "
His words were interrupted by a high, eager
voice, which broke suddenly into a torrent of
jostling words, words without meaning, pouring
strenuously out in angry assertions and foolish
repetitions. The pink h#d deepened to scarlet
upon Mr. Stuart's cheeks, his eyes were vacant
but brilliant, and he gabbled, gabbled, gabbled
as he rode. Kindly mother Nature ! she will
not let her children be mishandled too far.
" This is too much," she says ; " this wounded
leg, these crusted lips, this anxious, weary mind.
Come away for a time, until your body becomes
130 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
more habitable." And so she coaxes the mind
away into the Nirvana of delirium, while the
little cell-workers tinker and toil within to get
things better for its home-coming. When you
see the veil of cruelty which nature wears, try
and peer through it, and you will sometimes
catch a glimpse of a very homely, kindly face
The Arab guards looked askance at this sudden
outbreak of the clergyman, for it verged upon
lunacy, and lunacy is to them a fearsome and
supernatural thing. One of them rode forward
and spoke with the Emir. When he returned
he said something to his comrades, one of whom
closed in upon each side of the minister's camel,
so as to prevent him from falling. The friendly
negro sidled his beast up to the Colonel, and
whispered to him.
" We are going to halt presently, Belmont,"
" Thank God ! They may give us some water.
We can't go on like this."
" I told Tippy Tilly that, if he could help us,
we would turn him into a Bimbashi when we
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 131
got him back into Egypt. I think he's willing
enough if he only had the power. By Jove,
Belmont, do look back at the river."
Their route, which had lain through sand-
strewn khors with jagged, black edges — places
up which one would hardly think it possible
that a camel could climb — opened out now on
to a hard, rolling plain, covered thickly with
rounded pebbles, dipping and rising to the violet
hills upon the horizon. So regular were the
long, brown pebble-strewn curves, that they
looked like the dark rollers of some monstrous
ground-swell. Here and there a little straggling,
sage-green tuft of camel-grass sprouted up be-
tween the stones. Brown plains and violet hills
— nothing else in front of them ! Behind lay
the black jagged rocks through which they had
passed with orange slopes of sand, and then
far away a thin line of green to mark the
course of the river. How cool and beautiful
that green looked in the stark, abominable
wilderness ! On one side they could see the
high rock — the accursed rock which had tempted
them to their ruin. On the other the river
132 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
curved, and the sun gleamed upon the water.
Oh, that liquid gleam, and the insurgent animal
cravings, the brutal primitive longings, which
for the instant took the soul out of all of
them ! They had lost families, countries, liberty,
everything, but it was only of water, water,
water, that they could think. Mr. Stuart in
his delirium began roaring for oranges, and it
was insufferable for them to have to listen to
him. Only the rough, sturdy Irishman rose
superior to that bodily craving. That gleam of
river must be somewhere near Haifa, and his
wife might be upon the very water at which
he looked. He pulled his hat over his eyes,
and rode in gloomy silence, biting at his strong,
Slowly the sun sank towards the west, and
their shadows began to trail along the path
where their hearts would go. It was cooler,
and a desert breeze had sprung up, whispering
over the rolling, stone-strewed plain. The Emir
at their head had called his lieutenant to his
side, and the pair had peered about, their eyes
shaded by their hands, looking for some land-
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 135
mark. Then, with a satisfied grunt, the chiefs
camel had seemed to break short off at its
knees, and then at its hocks, going down in
three curious, broken-jointed jerks until its
stomach was stretched upon the ground. As
each succeeding camel reached the spot it lay
down also, until they were all stretched in one
long line. The riders sprang off, and laid out
the chopped tibbin upon cloths in front of them,
for no well-bred camel will eat from the ground.
In their gentle eyes, their quiet, leisurely way
of eating, and their condescending, mincing
manner, there was something both feminine and
genteel, as though a party of prim old maids
had foregathered in the heart of the Libyan
There was no interference with the prisoners,
either male or female, for how could they escape
in the centre of that huge plain ? The Emir
came towards them once, and stood combing out
his blue-black beard with his fingers, and looking
thoughtfully at them out of his dark, sinister
eyes. Miss Adams saw with a shudder that it
was always upon Sadie that his gaze was fixed.
136 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOEOSKO
Then, seeing their distress, he gave an order, and
a negro brought a water-skin, from which he
gave each of them about half a tumblerful.
It was hot and muddy, and tasted of leather,
but oh how delightful it was to their parched
palates ! The Emir said a few abrupt words to
the dragoman, and left.
" Ladies and gentlemen," Mansoor began, with
something of his old consequential manner ; but
a glare from the Colonel's eyes struck the words
from his lips, and he broke away into a long,
whimpering excuse for his conduct.
" How could I do anything otherwise," he
wailed, " with the very knife at my throat ? "
"You will have the very rope round your
throat if we all see Egypt again," growled
Cochrane savagely. " In the meantime "
" That's all right, Colonel," said Belmont.
" But for our own sakes we ought to know what
the chief has said."
" For my part I'll have nothing to do with
" I think that that is going too far. We
are bound to hear what he has to say."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 137
Cochrane shrugged his shoulders. Privations
had made him irritable, and he had to bite his
lip to keep down a bitter answer. He walked
slowly away, with his straight-legged military
" What did he say, then ? " asked Belmont,
looking at the dragoman with an eye which was
as stern as the Colonel's.
" He seems to be in a somewhat better manner
than before. He said that if he had more water
you should have it, but that he is himself short in
supply. He said that to-morrow we shall come
to the wells of Selimah, and everybody shall have
plenty — and the camels too."
" Did he say how long we stopped here ? "
" Very little rest, he said, and then forwards !
Oh, Mr. Belmont "
" Hold your tongue ! " snapped the Irishman,
and began once more to count times and dis-
tances. If it all worked out as he expected, if
his wife had insisted upon the indolent reis
giving an instant alarm at Haifa, then the pur-
suers should be already upon their track. The
Camel Corps or the Egyptian Horse would travel
138 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
by moonlight better and faster than in the day-
time. He knew that it was the custom at Haifa
to keep at least a squadron of them all ready
to start at any instant. He had dined at the
mess, and the officers had told him how quickly
they could take the field. They had shown
him the water-tanks and the food beside each
of the beasts, and he had admired the complete-
ness of the arrangements, with little thought as
to what it might mean to him in the future. It
would be at least an hour before they would all
get started again from their present halting-place.
That would be a clear hour gained. Perhaps by
And then, suddenly, his thoughts were terribly
interrupted. The Colonel, raving like a madman,
appeared upon the crest of the nearest slope, with
an Arab hanging on to each of his wrists. His
face was purple with rage and excitement, and
he tugged and bent and writhed in his furious
efforts to get free. " You cursed murderers ! " he
shrieked, and then, seeing the others in front
of him, " Belmont," he cried, " they've killed
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 139
What had happened was this. In his conflict
with his own ill-humour, Cochrane had strolled
over this nearest crest, and had found a group
of camels in the hollow beyond, with a little
knot of angry, loud-voiced men beside them.
Brown was the centre of the group, pale, heavy-
eyed, with his upturned, spiky moustache and
listless manner. They had searched his pockets
before, but now they were determined to tear off
all his clothes in the hope of finding something
which he had secreted. A hideous negro with
silver bangles in his ears, grinned and jabbered
in the young diplomatist's impassive face. There
seemed to the Colonel to be something heroic
and almost inhuman in that white calm, and
those abstracted eyes. His coat was already
open, and the negro's great black paw flew up
to his neck and tore his shirt down to the waist.
And at the sound of that r-r-rip, and at the
abhorrent touch of those coarse fingers, this man
about town, this finished product of the nine-
teenth century, dropped his life- traditions and
became a savage facing a savage. His face
flushed, his lips curled back, he chattered his
140 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
teeth like an ape, and his eyes — those indolent
eyes which had always twinkled so placidly —
were gorged and frantic. He threw himself upon
the negro, and struck him again and again, feebly
but viciously, in his broad, black face. He hit
like a girl, round arm, with an open palm. The
man winced away for an instant, appalled by
this sudden blaze of passion. Then with an
impatient, snarling cry, he slid a knife from his
long loose sleeve and struck upwards under the
whirling arm. Brown sat down at the blow and
began to cough — to cough as a man coughs who
has choked at dinner, furiously, ceaselessly, spasm
after spasm. Then the angry red cheeks turned
to a mottled pallor, there were liquid sounds in
his throat, and, clapping his hand to his mouth,
he rolled over on to his side. The negro, with a
brutal grunt of contempt, slid his knife up his
sleeve once more, while the Colonel, frantic with
impotent anger, was seized by the bystanders,
and dragged, raving with fury, back to his forlorn
party. His hands were lashed with a camel-
halter, and he lay at last, in bitter silence, beside
the delirious Nonconformist.
HE ROLLED OVER ON TO HIS SIDE.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 143
So Headingly was gone, and Cecil Brown was
gone, and their haggard eyes were turned from
one pale face to another, to know which they
should lose next of that frieze of light-hearted
riders who had stood out so clearly against the
blue morning sky, when viewed from the deck-
chairs of the Korosko. Two gone out of ten, and
a third out of his mind. The pleasure trip was
drawing to its climax.
Fardet, the Frenchman, was sitting alone with
his chin resting upon his hands, and his elbows
upon his knees, staring miserably out over the
desert, when Belmont saw him start suddenly
and prick up his head like a dog who hears a
strange step. Then, with clenched fingers, he
bent his face forward and stared fixedly towards
the black eastern hills through which they had
passed. Belmont followed his gaze, and, yes— yes
— there was something moving there ! He saw
the twinkle of metal, and the sudden gleam
and flutter of some white garment. A Dervish
vedette upon the flank turned his camel twice
round as a danger signal, and discharged his
rifle in the air. The echo of the crack had
144 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
hardly died away before they were all in* then-
saddles, Arabs and negroes. Another instant,
and the camels were on their feet and moving
slowly towards the point of alarm. Several
armed men surrounded the prisoners, slipping
cartridges into their Remingtons as a hint to
them to remain still.
" By Heaven, they are men on camels ! " cried
Cochrane, his troubles all forgotten as he strained
his eyes to catch sight of these new-comers. " I
do believe that it is our own people." In the
confusion he had tugged his hands free from
the halter which bound them.
" They've been smarter than I gave them
credit for," said Belmont, his eyes shining from
under his thick brows. " They are here a long
two hours before we could have reasonably ex-
pected them. Hurrah, Monsieur Fardet, ca va
bien, nest ce pas ? "
" Hurrah, hurrah! merveilleusement bien ! Vivent
les Anglais ! Vivent les Anglais ! " yelled the ex-
cited Frenchman, as the head of a column of
camelry began to wind out from among the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 145
" See here, Belmont," cried the Colonel.
" These fellows will want to shoot us if they
see it is all up. I know their ways, and we
must be ready for it. Will you be ready to jump
on the fellow with the blind eye ? and I'll take
the big nigger, if I can get my arms round him.
Stephens, you must do what you can. You,
Fardet, comprenez vous ? II est necessaire to plug
these Johnnies before they can hurt us. You,
dragoman, tell those two Soudanese soldiers that
they must be ready — but, but " . . . . his words
died into a murmur, and he swallowed once or
twice. "These are Arabs," said he, and it
sounded like another voice.
Of all the bitter day, it was the very
bitterest moment. Happy Mr. Stuart lay upon
the pebbles with his back against the ribs of
his camel, and chuckled consumedly at some
joke which those busy little cell- workers had
come across in their repairs. His fat face was
wreathed and creased with merriment. But the
others, how sick, how heart-sick, were they all !
The women cried. The men turned away in
that silence which is beyond tears. Monsieur
146 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
Fardet fell upon his face, and shook with dry
The Arabs were firing their rifles as a welcome
to their friends, and the others as they trotted
their camels across the open returned the salutes
and waved their rifles and lances in the air.
They were a smaller band than the first one —
not more than thirty — but dressed in the same
red headgear and patched jibbehs. One of them
carried a small white banner with a scarlet text
scrawled across it. But there was something
there which drew the eyes and the thoughts of
the tourists away from everything else. The
same fear gripped at each of their hearts, and
the same impulse kept each of them silent.
They stared at a swaying white figure half seen
amidst the ranks of the desert warriors.
" What's that they have in the middle of
them ? " cried Stephens at last. " Look, Miss
Adams ! Surely it is a woman ! "
There was something there upon a camel,
but it was difficult to catch a glimpse of it.
And then suddenly, as the two bodies met, the
riders opened out, and they saw it plainly.
NORAH, DARLING," HE SHOUTED, "KEEP YOUR HEART UP ! "
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 149
" It's a white woman ! "
" The steamer has been taken ! "
Belmont gave a cry that sounded high above
" Norah, darling," he shouted, " keep your heart
up ! I'm here, and it is all well ! "
So the Korosko had been taken, and the chances
of rescue upon which they had reckoned — all
those elaborate calculations of hours and distances
— were as unsubstantial as the mirage which
shimmered upon the horizon. There would be no
alarm at Haifa until it was found that the steamer
did not return in the evening. Even now, when
the Nile was only a thin green band upon the
farthest horizon, the pursuit had probably not
begun. In a hundred miles, or even less, they
would be in the Dervish country. How small,
then, was the chance that the Egyptian forces
could overtake them. They all sank into a
silent, sulky despair, with the exception of
Belmont, who was held back by the guards as
he strove to go to his wife's assistance.
The two bodies of camel-men had united, and
the Arabs, in their grave, dignified fashion, were
exchanging salutations and experiences, while the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 151
negroes grinned, chattered, and shouted, with the
careless good-humour which even the Koran has
not been able to alter. The leader of the new-
comers was a greybeard, a worn, ascetic, high-
nosed old man, abrupt and fierce in his manner,
and soldierly in his bearing. The dragoman
groaned when he saw him, and flapped his hands
miserably with the air of a man who sees trouble
accumulating upon trouble.
" It is the Emir Abderrahman," said he. " I
fear now that we shall never come to Khartoum
The name meant nothing to the others, but
Colonel Cochrane had heard of him as a monster
of cruelty and fanaticism, a red-hot Moslem of
the old fighting, preaching dispensation, who
never hesitated to carry the fierce doctrines of
the Koran to their final conclusions. He and
the Emir Wad Ibrahim conferred gravely together,
their camels side by side, and their red turbans
inclined inwards, so that the black beard mingled
with the white one. Then they both turned and
stared long and fixedly at the poor, head- hanging
huddle of prisoners. The younger man pointed
152 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
and explained, while his senior listened with a
sternly impassive face.
" Who's that nice-looking old gentleman in the
white beard ? " asked Miss Adams, who had been
the first to rally from the bitter disappointment.
" That is their leader now," Cochrane answered.
" You don't say that he takes command over
that other one ? "
" Yes, lady," said the dragoman ; " he is now
the head of all."
"Well, that's good for us. He puts me in
mind of Elder Mathews who was at the Presby-
terian Church in Minister Scott's time. Any-
how, I had rather be in his power than in the
hands of that black-haired one with the flint
eyes. Sadie, dear, you feel better now its cooler,
don't you ? "
" Yes, auntie ; don't you fret about me. How
are you yourself ? "
" Well, I'm stronger in faith than I was. I set
you a poor example, Sadie, for I was clean crazed
at first at the suddenness of it all, and at think-
ing of what your mother, who trusted you to me,
would think about it. My land, there'll be some
THEY HAVEN'T HURT YOU. NORAH, HAVE THEY? ;
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 155
head-lines in the Boston Herald over this ! I
guess somebody will have to suffer for it."
" Poor Mr. Stuart ! " cried Sadie, as the mono-
tonous droning voice of the delirious man came
again to their ears. " Come, auntie, and see if
we cannot do something to relieve him."
" I'm uneasy about Mrs. Shlesinger and the
child," said Colonel Cochrane. " I can see your
wife, Belmont, but I can see no one else."
" They are bringing her over," cried he. "Thank
God ! We shall hear all about it. They haven't
hurt you, Norah, have they ? " He ran forward
to grasp and kiss the hand which his wife held
down to him as he helped her from the camel.
The kind grey eyes and calm sweet face of
the Irishwoman brought comfort and hope to the
whole party. She was a devout Roman Catholic,
and it is a creed which forms an excellent prop
in hours of danger. To her, to the Anglican
Colonel, to the Nonconformist minister, to the
Presbyterian American, even to the two Pagan
black riflemen, religion in its various forms was
fulfilling the same beneficent office — whispering
always that the worst which the world can do is
156 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOEOSKO
a small thing, and that, however harsh the ways
of Providence may seem, it is, on the whole, the
wisest and best thing for us that we should go
cheerfully whither the Great Hand guides us.
They had not a dogma in common, these fellows
in misfortune ; but they held the intimate, deep-
lying spirit, the calm essential fatalism which is
the world-old framework of religion, with fresh
crops of dogmas growing like ephemeral lichens
upon its granite surface.
" You poor things ! " she said. " I can see that
you have had a much worse time than I have.
No, really, John, dear, I am quite well — not even
very thirsty, for our party filled their water-skins
at the Nile, and they let me have as much as
I wanted. But I don't see Mr. Headingly and
Mr. Brown. And poor Mr. Stuart — what a state
he has been reduced to ! "
" Headingly and Brown are out of their troubles,"
her husband answered. "You don't know how
often I have thanked God to-day, Norah, that you
were not with us. And here you are, after all."
" Where should I be but by my husband's side?
I had much.much rather be here than safe at Haifa."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 157
" Has any news gone to the town ? " asked the
" One boat escaped. Mrs. Shlesinger and her
child and maid were in it. I was downstairs in
my cabin when the Arabs rushed on to the vessel.
Those on deck had time to escape, for the boat
was alongside. I don't know whether any of them
were hit. The Arabs fired at them for some time."
" Did they ? " cried Belmont exultantly, his
responsive Irish nature catching the sunshine in
an instant. " Then, be Jove, we'll do them yet,
for the garrison must have heard the firing.
What d'ye think, Cochrane ? They must be
full cry upon our scent this four hours. Any
minute we might see the white puggaree of a
British officer coming over that rise."
But disappointment had left the Colonel cold
" They need not come at all unless they come
strong," said he. " These fellows are picked men
with good leaders, and on their own ground they
will take a lot of beating." Suddenly he paused
and looked at the Arabs. " By George ! " said he,
" that's a sight worth seeing ! "
158 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
The great red sun was down with half its disc
slipped behind the violet bank upon the horizon.
It was the hour of Arab prayer. An older and
more learned civilisation would have turned to
that magnificent thing upon the skyline and
adored that. But these wild children of the
desert were nobler in essentials than the polished
Persian. To them the ideal was higher than
the material, and it was with their backs to
the sun and their faces to the central shrine
of their religion that they prayed. And ho\*
they prayed, these fanatical Moslems ! Kapt
absorbed, with yearning eyes and shining faces,
rising, stooping, grovelling with their foreheads
upon their praying carpets. Who could doubt,
as he watched their strenuous, heart-whole de-
votion, that here was a great living power in
the world, reactionary but tremendous, countless
millions all thinking as one from Cape Juby
to the confines of China ? Let a common wave
pass over them, let a great soldier or organiser
arise among them to use the grand material at
his hand, and who shall say that this may not
be the besom with which Providence may sweep
IT WAS THE HOUR OF ARAB PRAYER.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 161
the rotten, decadent, impossible, half-hearted south
of Europe, as it did a thousand years ago, until
it makes room for a sounder stock ?
And now as they rose to their feet the bugle
rang out, and the prisoners understood that, hav-
ing travelled all day, they were fated to travel
all night also. Belmont groaned, for he had
reckoned upon the pursuers catching them up
before they left this camp. But the others
had already got into the way of accepting the
inevitable. A flat Arab loaf had been given
to each of them — what effort of the chef of
the post-boat had ever tasted like that dry
brown bread? — and then, luxury of luxuries,
they had a second ration of a glass of water,
for the fresh-filled bags of the new-comers had
provided an ample supply. If the body would
but follow the lead of the soul as readily as
the soul does that of the body, what a heaven
the earth might be ! Now, with their base
material wants satisfied for the instant, their
spirits began to sing within them, and they
mounted their camels with some sense of the
romance of their position. Mr. Stuart remained
162 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
babbling upon the ground, and the Arabs made
no effort to lift him into his saddle. His large,
white, upturned face glimmered through the
" Hi, dragoman, tell them that they are for-
getting Mr. Stuart," cried the Colonel.
" No use, sir," said Mansoor. " They say that
he is too fat, and that they will not take him
any farther. He will die, they say, and why
should they trouble about him ? "
" Not take him ! " cried Cochrane. " Why,
the man will perish of hunger and thirst.
Where's the Emir ? Hi ! " he shouted, as the
black-bearded Arab passed, with a tone like
that in which he used to summon a dilatory
donkey-boy. The chief did not deign to an-
swer him, but said something to one of the
guards, who dashed the butt of his Remington
into the Colonel's ribs. The old soldier fell
forward gasping, and was carried on half sense-
less, clutching at the pommel of his saddle.
The women began to cry, and the men, with
muttered curses and clenched hands, writhed in
that hell of impotent passion, where brutal in-
THE OLD SOLDIER FELL FOIIY.ARD GASPING.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 165
justice and ill-usage have to go without check
or even remonstrance. Belmont gripped at his
hip-pocket for his little revolver, and then re-
membered that he had already given it to Miss
Adams. If his hot hand had clutched it, it
would have meant the death of the Emir and
the massacre of the party.
And now as they rode onwards they saw
one of the most singular of the phenomena of
the Egyptian desert in front of them, though
the ill-treatment of their companion had left
them in no humour for the appreciation of its
beauty. When the sun had sunk, the horizon
had remained of a slaty-violet hue. But now
this began to lighten and to brighten until a
curious false dawn developed, and it seemed as if
a vacillating sun was coming back along the path
which it had just abandoned. A rosy pink hung
over the west, w r ith beautifully delicate sea-green
tints along the upper edge of it. Slowly these
faded into slate again, and the night had come.
It was but twenty-four hours since they had sat
in their canvas chairs discussing politics by
starlight on the saloon deck of the Korosko ;
166 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
only twelve since they had breakfasted there
and had started spruce and fresh upon their
last pleasure trip. What a world of fresh im-
pressions had come upon them since then !
How rudely they had been jostled out of their
take -it -for -granted complacency ! The same
shimmering silver stars, as they had looked
upon last night, the same thin crescent of moon
— but they, what a chasm lay between that old
pampered life and this !
The long line of camels moved as noiselessly
as ghosts across the desert. Before and behind
were the silent, swaying white figures of the Arabs.
Not a sound anywhere, not the very faintest sound,
until far away behind them they heard a human
voice singing in a strong, droning, unmusical
fashion. It had the strangest effect, this far-away
voice, in that huge inarticulate wilderness. And
then there came a well-known rhythm into that
distant chant, and they could almost hear the
We nightly pitch our moving tent,
A day's march nearer home.
Was Mr. Stuart in his right mind, again, or was
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 167
it some coincidence of his delirium, that he
should have chosen this for his song ? With
moist eyes his friends looked back through the
darkness, for well they knew that home was very
near to this wanderer. Gradually the voice died
away into a hum, and was absorbed once more
into the masterful silence of the desert.
" My dear old chap, I hope you're not hurt ? "
said Belmont, laying his hand upon Cochrane's
The Colonel had straightened himself, though
he still gasped a little in his breathing.
" I am all right again, now. Would you kindly
show me which was the man who struck me ? "
" It was the fellow in front there — with his
camel beside Fardet's."
"The young fellow with the moustache — I
can't see him very well in this light, but I
think I could pick him out again. Thank you,
Belmont ! "
" But I thought some of your ribs were gone."
" No, it only knocked the wind out of me."
" You must be made of iron. It was a frightful
blow. How could you rally from it so quickly ? "
168 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
The Colonel cleared his throat and hummed
" The fact is, my dear Belmont — I'm sure you
would not let it go further — above all not to the
ladies ; but I am rather older than I used to be,
and rather than lose the military carriage which
has always been dear to me, I "
" Stays, be Jove ! " cried the astonished Irish-
" Well, some slight artificial support," said the
Colonel stiffly, and switched the conversation off
to the chances of the morrow.
It still comes back in their dreams to those
who are left, that long night's march in the
desert. It was like a dream itself, the silence of
it as they were borne forward upon those soft,
shuffling sponge feet, and the flitting, flickering
figures which oscillated upon every side of them.
The whole universe seemed to be hung as a mon-
strous time-dial in front of them. A star would
glimmer like a lantern on the very level of their
path. They looked again, and it was a hand's-
breadth up, and another was shining beneath it.
Hour after hour the broad stream flowed sedately
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 169
across the deep blue background, worlds and
systems drifting majestically overhead, and pour-
ing over the dark horizon. In their vastness and
their beauty there was a vague consolation to the
prisoners ; for their own fate, and their own in-
dividuality, seemed trivial and unimportant amid
the play of such tremendous forces. Slowly the
grand procession swept across the heaven, first
climbing, then hanging long with little apparent
motion, and then sinking grandly downwards,
until away in the east the first cold grey glimmer
appeared, and their own haggard faces shocked
each other's sight.
The day had tortured them with its heat, and
now the night had brought the even more in-
tolerable disco; ifort of cold. The Arabs swathed
themselves in their gowns and wrapped up their
heads. The prisoners beat their hands together
and shivered miserably. Miss Adams felt it most,
for she was very thin, with the impaired circula-
tion of age. Stephens slipped off his Norfolk
jacket and threw it over her shoulders. He rode
beside Sadie, and whistled and chatted to make
her believe that her aunt was really relieving him
170 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
by carrying his jacket for him, but the attempt
was too boisterous not to be obvious; and yet
it was so far true that he probably felt the cold
less than any of the party, for the old, old fire
was burning in his heart, and a curious joy was
inextricably mixed with all his misfortunes, so
that he would have found it hard to say if this
adventure had been the greatest evil or the
greatest blessing of his lifetime. Aboard the
boat, Sadie's youth, her beauty, her intelligence
and humour, all made him realise that she could
at the best only be expected to charitably endure
him. But now he felt that he was really of some
use to her, that every hour she was learning to
turn to him as one turns to one's natural pro-
tector ; and above all, he had beg m to find him-
self — to understand that there really was a strong,
reliable man behind all the tricks of custom
which had built up an artificial nature, which
had imposed even upon himself. A little glow of
self-respect began to warm his blood. He had
missed his youth when he was young, and now
in his middle age it was coming up like some
beautiful belated flower.
m, t , r % i%
i* f^v ** - ^5^ " *^
*&C f *
Is \ 1
» . "1 ^. •' 4* ! .*"^
i 14 J Ute"
L i m
L f f >• .
mI 1 iMM
L • ! '
"I AM QUITE CERTAIN THAT I WOULD NOT LEAVE YOU."
THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 173
" I do believe that you are all the time enjoy-
ing it, Mr. Stephens," said Sadie with some
" I would not go so far as to say that," he
answered. ' But I am quite certain that I would
not leave you here."
It was the nearest approach to tenderness
which he had ever put into a speech, and the
girl looked at him in surprise.
" I think I've been a very wicked girl all my
life," she said after a pause. " Because I have had
a good time myself, I never thought of those who
were unhappy. This has struck me serious. If
ever I get back I shall be a better woman — a
more earnest woman — in the future."
" And I a better man. I suppose it is just for
that that trouble comes to us. Look how it has
brought out the virtues of all our friends. Take
poor Mr. Stuart, for example. Should we ever
have known what a noble, constant man he was ?
And see Belmont and his wife, in front of us
there, going fearlessly forward, hand in hand,
thinking only of each other. And Cochrane, who
always seemed on board the boat to be a rather
174 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
stand-offish, narrow sort of man ! Look at his
courage, and his unselfish indignation when any
one is ill used. Fardet, too, is as brave as a lion.
I think misfortune has done us all good."
" Yes, if it would end right here one might say
so ; but if it goes on and on for a few weeks
or months of misery, and then ends in death, I
don't know where we reap the benefit of those
improvements of character which it brings. Sup-
pose you escape, what will you do ? "
The lawyer hesitated, but his professional in-
stincts were still strong.
" I will consider whether an action lies, and
against whom. It should be with the organisers
of the expedition for taking us to the Abousir
Rock — or else with the Egyptian Government
for not protecting their frontiers. It will be a
nice legal question. And what will you do,
Sadie ? "
It was the first time that he had ever dropped
the formal Miss, but the girl was too much in
earnest to notice it.
" I will be more tender to others," she said.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 175
" I will try to make some one else happy in
memory of the miseries which I have endured."
" You have done nothing all your life but
made others happy. You cannot help doing it,"
said he. The darkness made it more easy for
him to break through the reserve which was
habitual with him. " You need this rough
schooling far less than any of us. How could
your character be changed for the better ? "
" You show how little you know me. I have
been very selfish and thoughtless."
" At least you had no need for all these strong
emotions. You were sufficiently alive Avithout
them. Now it has been different with me."
" Why did you need emotions, Mr. Stephens ? "
" Because anything is better than stagnation.
Pain is better than stagnation. I have only just
begun to live. Hitherto I have been a machine
upon the earth's surface. I was a one-ideaed
man, and a one-ideaed man is only one remove
from a dead man. That is what I have only
just begun to realise. For all these years I
have never been stirred, never felt a real throb
of human emotion pass through me. I had
176 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
no time for it. I had observed it in others,
and I had vaguely wondered whether there was
some want in me which prevented my sharing
the experience of my fellow-mortals. But now
these last few days have taught me how keenly
I can live — that I can have warm hopes, and
deadly fears — that I can hate, and that I can —
well, that I can have every strong feeling which
the soul can experience. I have come to life.
I may be on the brink of the grave, but at least
I can say now that I have lived."
" And why did you lead this soul-killing life
in England ? "
" I was ambitious — I wanted to get on. And
then there were my mother and my sisters to be
thought of. Thank Heaven, here is the morn-
ing coming. Your aunt and you will soon cease
to feel the cold."
" And you without your coat ! "
" Oh, I have a very good circulation. I can
manage very well in my shirt-sleeves."
And now the long, cold, weary night was over,
and the deep blue-black sky had lightened to a
wonderful mauve-violet, with the larger stars still
YOU MUST TRUST TO ME.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 179
glinting brightly out of it. Behind them the
grey line had crept higher and higher, deepen-
ing into a delicate rose-pink, with the fan-like
rays of the invisible sun shooting and quivering
across it. Then, suddenly, they felt its warm
touch upon their backs, and there were hard
black shadows upon the sand in front of them.
The Dervishes loosened their cloaks and pro-
ceeded to talk cheerily among themselves. The
prisoners also began to thaw, and eagerly ate
the doora which was served out for their break-
fasts. A short halt had been called, and a cup
of water handed to each.
" Can I speak to you, Colonel Cochrane ? "
asked the dragoman. .
" No, you can't," snapped the Colonel.
" But it is very important — all our safety may
come from it."
The Colonel frowned and pulled at his mous-
" Well, what is it ? " he asked at last.
" You must trust to me, for it is as much to
me as to you to get back to Egypt. My wife
and home, and children, are on one part, and a
180 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
slave for life upon the other. You have no cause
to doubt it."
" Well, go on ! "
" You know the black man who spoke with
you — the one who had been with Hicks ? "
" Yes, what of him ? "
" He has been speaking with me during the
night. I have had a long talk with him. He
said that he could not very well understand you,
nor you him, and so he came to me."
" What did he say ? "
" He said that there were eight Egyptian
soldiers among the Arabs — six black and two
fellaheen. He said that he wished to have your
promise that they should all have very good
reward if they helped you to escape."
" Of course they shall."
" They asked for one hundred Egyptian pounds
" They shall have it."
" I told him that I would ask you, but that
I was sure that you would agree to it."
" What do they propose to do ? "
" They could promise nothing, but what they
THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 181
thought best was that they should ride their
camels not very far from you, so that if any
chance should come they would be ready to take
" Well, you can go to him and promise
two hundred pounds each if they will help us.
You do not think we could buy over some
Arabs ? "
Mansoor shook his head. " Too much danger
to try," said he. " Suppose you try and fail, then
that will be the end to all of us. I will go tell
what you have said." He strolled off to where
the old negro gunner was grooming his camel
and waiting for his reply.
The Emirs had intended to halt for a half-
hour at the most, but the baggage-camels which
bore the prisoners were so worn out with the
long, rapid march, that it was clearly impossible
that they should move for some time. They
had laid their long necks upon the ground, which
is the last symptom of fatigue. The two chiefs
shook their heads when they inspected them,
and the terrible old man looked with his hard-
lined, rock features at the captives. Then he
182 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
said something to Mansoor, whose face turned
a shade more sallow as he listened.
" The Emir Abderrahman says that if you do
not become Moslem, it is not worth while delay-
ing the whole caravan in order to carry you
upon the baggage -camels. If it were not for
you, he says that we could travel twice as fast.
He wishes to know therefore, once for ever, if
you will accept the Koran." Then in the same
tone, as if he were still translating, he continued :
" You had far better consent, for if you do not
he will most certainly put you all to death."
The unhappy prisoners looked at each other
in despair. The two Emirs stood gravely watch-
" For my part," said Cochrane, " I had as soon
die now as be a slave in Khartoum."
" What do you say, Norah ? " asked Belmont.
" If we die together, John, I don't think I
shall be afraid."
" It is absurd that I should die for that in
which I have never had belief," said Fardet.
" And yet it is not possible for the honour of a
Frenchman that he should be converted in this
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 183
fashion." He drew himself up, with his wounded
wrist stuck into the front of his jacket, " Je suis
Chretien. J'y reste" he cried, a gallant falsehood
in each sentence.
" What do you say, Mr Stephens ? " asked
Mansoor in a beseeching voice. " If one of you
would change, it might place them in a good
humour. I implore you that you do what they
" JSTo, I can't," said the lawyer quietly.
" Well then, you, Miss Sadie ? You, Miss
Adams ? It is only just to say it once, and you
will be saved."
" Oh, auntie, do you think we might ? " whim-
pered the frightened girl. " Would it be so very
wrong if we said it ? "
The old lady threw her arms round her.
" No, no, my own dear little Sadie," she whis-
pered. " You'll be strong ! You would just hate
yourself for ever after. Keep your grip of me,
dear, and pray if you find your strength is leav-
ing you. Don't forget that your old aunt Eliza
has you all the time by the hand."
For an instant they were heroic, this line of
184 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
dishevelled, bedraggled pleasure-seekers. They
were all looking Death in the face, and the closer
they looked the less they feared him. They
were conscious rather of a feeling of curiosity,
together with the nervous tingling with which
one approaches a dentist's chair. The dragoman
made a motion of his hands and shoulders, as
one who has tried and failed. The Emir Abder-
rahman said something to a negro, who hurried
" What does he want a scissors for ? " asked
'• He is going to hurt the women," said Man-
soor, with the same gesture of impotence.
A cold chill fell upon them all. They stared
about them in helpless horror. Death in the
abstract was one thing, but these insufferable
details were another. Each had been braced to
endure any evil in his own person, but their hearts
were still soft for each other. The women said
nothing, but the men were all buzzing together.
" There's the pistol, Miss Adams," said Belmont.
" Give it here ! We won't be tortured ! We
won't stand it ! "
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 185
" Offer them money, Mansoor ! Offer them
anything ! " cried Stephens. " Look here, I'll
turn Mohammedan if they'll promise to leave
the women alone. After all, it isn't binding —
it's under compulsion. But I can't see the
" No, wait a bit, Stephens ! " said the Colonel.
" We mustn't lose our heads. I think I see a
way out. See here, dragoman ! You tell that
grey-bearded old devil that we know nothing
about his cursed tinpot religion. Put it smooth
when you translate it. Tell him that he cannot
expect us to adopt it until we know what par-
ticular brand of rot it is that he wants us to
believe. Tell him that if he will instruct us,
we are perfectly willing to listen to his teaching,
and you can add that any creed which turns out
such beauties as him, and that other bounder
with the black beard, must claim the attention
of every one."
With bows and suppliant sweepings of his
hands the dragoman explained that the Chris-
tians were already full of doubt, and that it
needed but a little more light of knowledge to
186 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
guide them on to the path of Allah. The two
Emirs stroked their beards and gazed suspiciously
at them. Then Abderrahman spoke in his crisp,
stern fashion to the dragoman, and the two strode
away together. An instant later the bugle rang
out as a signal to mount.
"What he says is this," Mansoor explained, as
he rode in the middle of the prisoners. "We
shall reach the wells by mid-day, and there will
be a rest. His own Moolah, a very good and
learned man, will come to give you an hour of
teaching. At the end of that time you will
choose one way or the other. When you have
chosen, it will be decided whether you are to go
to Khartoum or to be put to death. That is his
" They won't take ransom ? "
" Wad Ibrahim would, but the Emir Abder-
rahman is a terrible man. I advise you to give
in to him."
"What have you done yourself? You are a
Mansoor blushed as deeply as his complexion
THE TWO EMIRS GAZED SUSPICIOUSLY AT THEM.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 189
" I was yesterday morning. Perhaps I will be
to-morrow morning. I serve the Lord as long
as what He ask seem reasonable ; but this is
He rode onwards amongst the guards with a
freedom which showed that his change of faith
had put him upon a very different footing to the
So they were to have a reprieve of a few
hours, though they rode in that dark shadow of
death which was closing in upon them. What
is there in life that we should cling to it so ? It
is not the pleasures, for those whose hours are
one long pain shrink away screaming when they
see merciful Death holding his soothing arms
out for them. It is not the associations, for we
will change all of them before we walk of our own
free-wills down that broad road which every son
and daughter of man must tread. Is it the fear
of losing the I, that dear, intimate I, which we
think we know so well, although it is eternally
doing things which surprise us ? Is it that
which makes the deliberate suicide cling madly
to the bridge-pier as the river sweeps him by ?
190 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
Or is it that Nature is so afraid that all her
weary workmen may suddenly throw down their
tools and strike, that she has invented this
fashion of keeping them constant to their
present work ? But there it is, and all these
tired, harassed, humiliated folk rejoiced in the
few more hours of suffering which were left to
There was nothing to show them as they jour-
neyed onwards that they were not on the very
spot that they had passed at sunset upon the
evening before. The region of fantastic black
hills and 'orange sand which bordered the river
had long been left behind, and everywhere now
was the same brown, rolling, gravelly plain, the
ground-swell with the shining rounded pebbles
upon its surface, and the occasional little
sprouts of sage-green camel-grass. Behind and
before it extended, to where far away in
front of them it sloped upwards towards a line
of violet hills. The sun was not high enough
yet to cause the tropical shimmer, and the
wide landscape, brown with its violet edging,
stood out with a hard clearness in that dry, pure
air. The long caravan straggled along at the
slow swing of the baggage-camels. Far out on
the flanks rode the vedettes, halting at every
192 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
rise, and peering backwards with their hands
shading their eyes. In the distance their spears
and rifles seemed to stick out of them, straight
and thin, like needles in knitting.
" How far do you suppose we are from the
Nile ? " asked Cochrane. He rode with his chin
on his shoulder and his eyes straining wistfully
to the eastern sky-line.
" A good fifty miles," Belmont answered.
" Not so much as that," said the Colonel.
"We could not have been moving more than
fifteen or sixteen hours, and a camel does not
do more than two and a half miles an hour un-
less it is trotting. That would only give about
forty miles, but still it is, I fear, rather far for
a rescue. I don't know that we are much the
better for this postponement. What have we
to hope for ? We may just as well take our
" Never say die ! " cried the cheery Irishman.
"There's plenty of time between this and mid-
day. Hamilton and Hedley of the Camel Corps
are good boys, and they'll be after us like a
streak. They'll have no baggage camels to hold
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 193
tliem back, you can lay your life on that ! Little
did I think, when I dined with them at mess
that last night, and they were telling me all
their precautions against a raid, that I should
depend upon them for our lives."
" Well, we'll play the game out, but I'm not
very hopeful," said Cochrane. " Of course, we
must keep the best face we can before the women.
I see that Tippy Tilly is as good as his word, for
those five niggers and the two brown Johnnies
must be the men he speaks of. They all ride
together and keep well up, but I can't see how
they are going to help us."
" I've got my pistol back," whispered Belmont,
and his square chin and strong mouth set like
granite. " If they try any games on the women,
I mean to shoot them all three with my own hand,
and then we'll die with our minds easy."
" Good man ! " said Cochrane, and they rode
on in silence. None of them spoke much. A
curious, dreamy, irresponsible feeling crept over
them. It was as if they had all taken some
narcotic drug — the merciful anodyne which
Nature uses when a great crisis has fretted the
194 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
nerves too far. They thought of their friends
and of their past lives in the comprehensive way
in which one views that which is completed. A
subtle sweetness mingled with the sadness of
their fate. They were filled with the quiet
serenity of despair.
" It's devilish pretty," said the Colonel, looking
about him. " I always had an idea that I should
like to die in a real, good, yellow London fog.
You couldn't change for the worse."
" I should have liked to have died in my sleep,'
said Sadie. " How beautiful to wake up and find
yourself in the other world ! There was a piece
that Hetty Smith used to say at the College:
' Say not good-night, but in some brighter world
wish me good-morning.' "
The Puritan aunt shook her head at the idea.
" It's a terrible thing to go unprepared into the
presence of your Maker," said she.
" It's the loneliness of death that is terrible,"
said Mrs. Belmont. " If we and those whom we
loved all passed over simultaneously, we should
think no more of it than of changing our house."
" If the worst comes to the worst, we won't be
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 195
lonely," said her husband. " We'll all go to-
gether, and we shall find Brown and Headingly
and Stuart waiting on the other side."
The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders. He
had no belief in survival after death, but he
envied the two Catholics the quiet way in which
they took things for granted. He chuckled to
think of what his friends in the Cafe Cubat
would say if they learned that he had laid down
his life for the Christian faith. Sometimes it
amused and sometimes it maddened him, and he
rode onwards with alternate gusts of laughter and
of fury, nursing his wounded wrist all the time
like a mother with a sick baby.
Across the brown of the hard, pebbly desert
there had been visible for some time a single
long, thin, yellow streak, extending north and
south as far as they could see. It was a band
of sand not more than a few hundred yards
across, and rising at the highest to eight or ten
feet. But the prisoners were astonished to
observe that the Arabs pointed at this with an
air of the utmost concern, and they halted when
they came to the edge of it like men upon the
196 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
brink of an unfordable river. It was very light,
dusty sand, and every wandering breath of wind
sent it dancing into the air like a whirl of midges.
The Emir Abderrahman tried to force his camel
into it, but the creature, after a step or two, stood
still and shivered with terror. The two chiefs
talked for a little, and then the whole caravan
trailed off with their heads for the north, and the
streak of sand upon their left.
" What is it ? " asked Belmont, who found the
dragoman riding at his elbow. " Why are we
going out of our course ? "
" Drift sand," Mansoor answered. " Every some-
times the wind bring it all in one long place like
that. To-morrow, if a wind comes, perhaps there
will not be one grain left, but all will be carried
up into the air again. An Arab will sometimes
have to go fifty or a hundred miles to go round
a drift. Suppose he tries to cross, his camel
breaks its legs, and he himself is sucked in and
" How long will this be ? "
" No one can say."
" Well, Cochrane, it's all in our favour. The
THE CREATURE, AFTER A STEP OR TWO, STOOD STILL.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 199
longer the chase the better chance for the fresh
camels ! " and for the hundredth time he looked
back at the long, hard skyline behind them.
There was the great, empty, dun-coloured desert,
but where the glint of steel or the twinkle of
white helmet for which he yearned ?
And soon they cleared the obstacle in their
front. It spindled away into nothing, as a
streak of dust would which has been blown
across an empty room. It was curious to see
that when it was so narrow that one could
almost jump it, the Arabs would still go for
many hundreds of yards rather than risk the
crossing. Then, with good, hard country before
them once more, the tired beasts were whipped
up, and they ambled on with a double-jointed
jogtrot, which set the prisoners nodding and bow-
ing in grotesque and ludicrous misery. It was
fun at first, and they smiled at each other, but
soon the fun had become tragedy as the terrible
camel- ache seized them by spine and waist, with
its deep, dull throb, which rises gradually to a
" I can't stand it, Sadie," cried Miss Adams
200 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
suddenly. "I've done my best. I'm going to
"No, no, auntie, you'll break your limbs if
you do. Hold up, just a little, and maybe
"Lean back, and hold your saddle behind,"
said the Colonel. "There, you'll find that will
ease the strain." He took the puggaree from
his hat, and tying the ends together, he slung it
over her front pommel. " Put your foot in the
loop," said he. "It will steady you like a
The relief was instant, so Stephens did the
same for Sadie. But presently one of the weary
doora camels came down with a crash, its limbs
starred out as if it had split asunder, and the
caravan had to come down to its old sober .gait.
" Is this another belt of drift sand ? " asked the
" No, it's white," said Belmont. " Here, Man-
soor, what is that in front of us ? "
But the dragoman shook his head.
" I don't know what it is, sir. I never saw
the same thing before."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 203
Right across the desert, from north to south,
there was drawn a white line, as straight and
clear as if it had been slashed with chalk across
a brown table. It was very thin, but it extended
without a break from horizon to horizon. Tippy
Tilly said something to the dragoman.
" It's the great caravan route," said Mansoor.
" What makes it white, then ? "
" The bones."
It seemed incredible, and yet it was true, for
as they drew nearer they saw that it was indeed
a beaten track across the desert, hollowed out
by long usage, and so covered with bones that
they gave the impression of a continuous white
ribbon. Long, snouty heads were scattered
everywhere, and the lines of ribs were so con-
tinuous that it looked in places like the frame-
work of a monstrous serpent. The endless road
gleamed in the sun as if it were paved with
ivory. For thousands of years this had been
the highway over the desert, and during all
that time no animal of all those countless
caravans had died there without being pre-
served by the dry, antiseptic air. No wonder,
204 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
then, that it washardly possible to walk down it
now without treading upon their skeletons.
" This must be the route I spoke of," said
Stephens. " I remember marking it upon the
map I made for you, Miss Adams. Baedeker
says that it has been disused on account of the
cessation of all trade which followed the rise of
the Dervishes, but that it used to be the main
road by which the skins and gums of Darfur
found their way down to Lower Egypt."
They looked at it with a listless curiosity, for
there was enough to engross them at present in
their own fates. The caravan struck to the south
along the old desert track, and this Golgotha of
a road seemed to be a fitting avenue for that
which awaited them at the end of it. Weary
camels and weary riders dragged on together
towards their miserable goal.
And now, as the critical moment approached
which was to decide their fate, Colonel Coch-
rane, weighed down by his fears lest something
terrible should befall the women, put his pride
aside to the extent of asking the advice of the
renegade dragoman. The fellow was a villain
HOW CAN WE STAVE THEM OFF FOR ANOTHER DAY? ;
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 207
and a coward, but at least he was an Oriental,
and he understood the Arab point of view. His
change of religion had brought him into closer
contact with the Dervishes, and he had over-
heard their intimate talk. Cochrane's stiff,
aristocratic nature fought hard before he could
bring himself to ask advice from such a man,
and when he at last did so, it was in the gruffest
and most unconciliatory voice.
"You know the rascals, and you have the
same way of looking at things," said he. " Our
object is to keep things going for another twenty-
four hours. After that it does not much matter
what befalls us, for we shall be out of the reach
of rescue. But how can we stave them off for
another day ? "
"You know my advice," the dragoman an-
swered ; " I have already answered it to you. If
you will all become as I have, you will certainly
be carried to Khartoum in safety. If you do not,
you will never leave our next camping-place
The Colonel's well- curved nose took a higher
tilt, and an angry flush reddened his thin cheeks.
208 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
He rode in silence for a little, for his Indian
service had left him with a curried-prawn temper,
which had had an extra touch of cayenne added
to it by his recent experiences. It was some
minutes before he could trust himself to reply.
" We'll set that aside," said he at last. " Some
things are possible and some are not. This is
" You need only pretend."
" That's enough," said the Colonel abruptly.
Mansoor shrugged his shoulders.
" What is the use of asking me, if you become
angry when I answer ? If you do not wish to do
what I say, then try your own attempt. At least
you cannot say that I have not done all I could
to save you."
" I'm not angry," the Colonel answered after a
pause, in a more conciliatory voice, "but this is
climbing down rather farther than we care to go.
Now, what I thought is this. You might, if you
chose, give this priest, or Moolah, who is coming
to us, a hint that we really are softening a bit upon
the point. I don't think, considering the hole
that we are in, that there can be very much
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 209
objection to that. Then, when he comes, we
might play up and take an interest and ask for
more instruction, and in that way hold the matter
over for a day or two. Don't you think that
would be the best game ? "
" You will do as you like," said Mansoor. " I
have told you once for ever what I think. If
you wish that I speak to the Moolah, I will do so.
It is the fat, little man with the grey beard, upon
the brown camel in front there. I may tell you
that he has a name among them for converting
the infidel, and he has a great pride in it, so
that he would certainly prefer that you were not
injured if he thought that he might bring you
" Tell him that our minds are open, then," said
the Colonel. " I don't suppose the padre would
have gone so far, but now that he is dead I think
we may stretch a point. You go to him, Man-
soor, and if you work it well we will agree to
forget what is past. By the way, has Tippy
Tilly said anything ? "
" No, sir. He has kept his men together, but
he does not understand yet how he can help you."
210 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" Neither do I. Well, you go to the Moolah,
and I'll tell the others what we have agreed."
The prisoners all acquiesced in the Colonel's
plan, with the exception of the old New England
lady, who absolutely refused even to show any
interest in the Mohammedan creed. " I guess I
am too old to bow the knee to Baal," she said.
The most that she would concede was that she
would not openly interfere with anything which
her companions might say or do.
" And who is to argue with the priest ? " asked
Fardet, as they all rode together, talking the
matter over. " It is very important that it should
be done in a natural way, for if he thought that
we were only trying to gain time, he would refuse
to have any more to say to us."
" I think Cochrane should do it, as the proposal
is his," said Belmont.
" Pardon me ! " cried the Frenchman. ' I will
not say a word against our friend the Colonel, but
it is not possible that a man should be fitted for
everything. It will all come to nothing if he
attempts it. The priest will see through the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 211
" Will he ? " said the Colonel with dignity.
" Yes, my friend, he will, for, like most of your
countrymen, you are very wanting in sympathy
for the ideas of other people, and it is the great
fault which I find with you as a nation."
" Oh, drop the politics ! " cried Belmont im-
" I do not talk politics. What I say is very
practical. How can Colonel Cochrane pretend to
this priest that he is really interested in his
religion when, in effect, there is no religion in
the world to him outside some little church in
which he has been born and bred ? I will say
this for the Colonel, that I do not believe he is
at all a hypocrite, and I am sure that he could
not act well enough to deceive such a man as
The Colonel sat with a very stiff back and the
blank face of a man who is not quite sure whether
he is being complimented or insulted.
" You can do the talking yourself if you like,"
said he at last. " I should be very glad to be
relieved of it."
" I think that I am best fitted for it, since I
212 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
am equally interested in all creeds. When I ask
for information, it is because in verity I desire it,
and not because I am playing a part."
" I certainly think that it would be much better
if Monsieur Fardet would undertake it," said Mrs.
Belmont with decision, and so the matter was
The sun was now high, and it shone with
dazzling brightness upon the bleached bones
which lay upon the road. Again the torture of
thirst fell upon the little group of survivors, and
again, as they rode with withered tongues and
crusted lips, a vision of the saloon of the Korosko
danced like a mirage before their eyes, and they
saw the white napery, the wine-cards by the
places, the long necks of the bottles, the siphons
upon the sideboard. Sadie, who had borne up so
well, became suddenly hysterical, and her shrieks
of senseless laughter jarred horribly upon their
nerves. Her aunt on one side of her, and Mr.
Stephens on the other, did all they could to
soothe her, and at last the weary, over-strung
girl relapsed into something between a sleep and
a faint, hanging limp over her pommel, and only
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 213
kept from falling by the friends who clustered
round her. The baggage- camels were as weary
as their riders, and again and again they had to
jerk at their nose-ropes to prevent them from
lying down. From horizon to horizon stretched
that one huge arch of speckless blue, and up its
monstrous concavity crept the inexorable sun,
like some splendid but barbarous deity, who
claimed a tribute of human suffering as his
Their course still lay along the old trade route,
but their progress was very slow, and more than
once the two Emirs rode back together, and shook
their heads as they looked at the weary baggage -
camels on which the prisoners were perched.
The greatest laggard of all was one which was
ridden by a ivounded Soudanese soldier. It was
limping badly with a strained tendon, and it
was only by constant prodding that it could be
kept with the others. The Emir Wad Ibraham
raised his Remington, as the creature hobbled
past, and sent , a bullet through its brain. The
wounded man flew forwards out of the high
saddle, and fell heavily upon the hard track.
214 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
His companions in misfortune, looking back, saw
him stagger to his feet with a dazed face. At the
same instant a Baggara slipped down from his
camel with a sword in his hand.
" Don't look ! don't look ! " cried Belmont to
the ladies, and they all rode on with their faces
to the south. They heard no sound, but the
Baggara passed them a few minutes afterwards.
He was cleaning his sword upon the hairy neck
of his camel, and he glanced at them with a
quick, malicious gleam of his teeth as he trotted
by. But those who are at the lowest pitch of
human misery are at least secured against the
future. That vicious, threatening smile which
might once have thrilled them left them now
unmoved — or stirred them at most to vague
There were many things to interest them in
this old trade route, had they been in a condition
to take notice of them. Here and there along
its course were the crumbling remains of ancient
buildings, so old that no date could be assigned
to them, but designed in some far-off civilisation
to give the travellers shade from the sun or
A BAGGARA SLIPPED DOWN WITH A SWORD IN HIS HAND.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 217
protection from the ever-lawless children of the
desert. The mud bricks with which these refuges
were constructed showed that the material had
been carried over from the distant Nile. Once,
upon the top of a little knoll, they saw the
shattered plinth of a pillar of red Assouan granite,
with the wide- winged symbol of the Egyptian god
across it, and the cartouche of the second Rameses
beneath. After three thousand years one cannot
get away from the ineffaceable footprints of the
warrior-king. It is surely the most wonderful
survival of history that one should still be able
to gaze upon him, high nosed and masterful, as
he lies with his powerful arms crossed upon his
chest, majestic even in decay, in the Gizeh
Museum. To the captives, the cartouche was a
message of hope, as a sign that they were not
outside the sphere of Egypt. " They've left their
card here once, and they may again," said Bel-
mont, and they all tried to smile.
And now they came upon one of the most
satisfying sights on which the human eye can
ever rest. Here and there, in the depressions at
either side of the road, there had been a thin
218 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
scurf of green, which meant that water was not
very far from the surface. And then, quite
suddenly, the track dipped down into a bowl-
shaped hollow, with a most dainty group of palm-
trees, and a lovely green sward at the bottom of
it. The sun gleaming upon that brilliant patch
of clear, restful colour, with the dark glow of the
bare desert around it, made it shine like the
purest emerald in a setting of burnished copper.
And then it was not its beauty only, but its
promise for the future : water, shade, all that
weary travellers could ask for. Even Sadie was
revived by the cheery sight, and the spent camels
snorted and stepped out more briskly, stretching
their long necks and sniffing the air as they went.
After the unhomely harshness of the desert, it
seemed to all of them that they had never seen
anything more beautiful than this. They looked
below at the green sward with the dark, star-like
shadows of the palm -crowns, and then they
looked up at those deep green leaves against the
rich blue of the sky, and they forgot their im-
pending death in the beauty of that Nature to
whose bosom they were about to return.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 219
The wells in the centre of the grove consisted
of seven large and two small saucer-like cavities
filled with peat-coloured water, enough to form a
plentiful supply for any caravan. Camels and
men drank it greedily, though it was tainted by
the all-pervading natron. The camels were
picketed, the Arabs threw their sleeping-mats
down in the shade, and the prisoners, after receiv-
ing a ration of dates and of doora, were told that
they might do what they would during the heat
of the day, and that the Moolah would come to
them before sunset. The ladies were given the
thicker shade of an acacia tree, and the men lay
down under the palms. The great green leaves
swished slowly above them ; they heard the low
hum of the Arab talk, and the dull champing of
the camels, and then in an instant, by that most
mysterious and least understood of miracles, one
was in a green Irish valley, and another saw the
long straight line of Commonwealth Avenue, and
a third was dining at a little round table opposite
to the bust of Nelson in the Army and Navy
Club, and for him the swishing of the palm
branches had been transformed into the long-
220 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
drawn hum of Pall Mall. So the spirits went
their several ways, wandering back along strange,
untraced tracks of the memory, while the weary,
grimy bodies lay senseless under the palm-trees
in the Oasis of the Libyan Desert.
SENSELESS UNDER THE PALM-TREES.
Colonel Cochrane was awakened from his
slumber by some one pulling at his shoulder.
As his eyes opened they fell upon the black,
anxious face of Tippy Tilly, the old Egyptian
gunner. His crooked finger was laid upon his
thick, liver-coloured lips, and his dark eyes glanced
from left to right with ceaseless vigilance.
" Lie quiet ! Do not move ! " he whispered, in
Arabic. " I will lie here beside you, and they
cannot tell me from the others. You can under-
stand what I am saying ? "
" Yes, if you will talk slowly.
" Very good. I have no great trust in this
black man, Mansoor. I had rather talk direct
with the Miralai."
" What have you to say ? "
<: I have waited long, until they should all be
asleep, and now in another hour we shall be called
to evening prayer. First of all, here is a pistol,
224 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
that you may not say that you are without
It was a clumsy, old-fashioned thing, but the
Colonel saw the glint of a percussion cap upon
the nipple, and knew that it was loaded. He
slipped it into the inner pocket of his Norfolk
" Thank you," said he ; " speak slowly, so that I
may understand you."
"There are eight of us who wish to go to
Egypt. There are also four men in your party.
One of us, Mehemet Ali, has fastened twelve
camels together, which are the fastest of all save
only those which are ridden by the Emirs. There
are guards upon watch, but they are scattered in
all directions. The twelve camels are close beside
us here — those twelve behind the acacia tree. If
we can only get mounted and started, I do not
think that many can overtake us, and we shall
have our rifles for them. The guards are not
strong enough to stop so many of us. The water-
skins are all filled, and we may see the Nile again
by to-morrow night."
The Colonel could not follow it all, but he
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 225
understood enough to set a little spring of hope
bubbling in his heart. The last terrible day had
left its mark in his livid face and his hair, which
was turning rapidly to grey. He might have
been the father of the spruce well - preserved
soldier who had paced with straight back and
military stride up and down the saloon deck of
" That is excellent," said he. " But what are
we to do about the three ladies ? "
The black soldier shrugged his shoulders.
" Mefeesh ! " said he. " One of them is old, and
in any case there are plenty more women if we
get back to Egypt. These will not come to any
hurt, but they will be placed in the harem of the
" What you say is nonsense," said the Colonel
sternly. " We shall take our women with us, or
we shall not go at all."
" I think it is rather you who talk the thing
without sense," the black man answered angrily.
" How can you ask my companions and me to do
that which must end in failure ? For years we
have waited for such a chance as this, and now
226 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
that it has come, you wish us to throw it away
owing to this foolishness about the women."
" What have we promised you if we come back
to Egypt ? " asked Cochrane.
" Two hundred Egyptian pounds and promotion
in the army — all upon the word of an Englishman."
"Very good. Then you shall have three
hundred each if you can make some new plan
by which you can take the women with you."
Tippy Tilly scratched his woolly head in his
"We might, indeed, upon some excuse, bring
three more of the faster camels round to this place.
Indeed, there are three very good camels among
those which are near the cooking fire. But how
are we to get the women upon them ? — and if
we had them upon them, we know very well
that they would fall off when they began to
gallop. I fear that you men will fall off, for it
is no easy matter to remain upon a galloping
camel ; but as to the women, it is impossible.
No, we shall leave the women, and if you will
not leave the women, then we shall leave all of
you and start by ourselves."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 229
" Very good ! Go ! " said the Colonel abruptly,
and settled down as if to sleep once more. He
knew that with Orientals it is the silent man who
is most likely to have his way.
The negro turned and crept away for some
little distance, where he was met by one of his
fellaheen comrades, Mehemet Ali, who had charge
of the camels. The two argued for some little
time — for those three hundred golden pieces were
not to be lightly resigned. Then the negro crept
back to Colonel Cochrane.
" Mehemet Ali has agreed," said he. " He has
gone to put the nose-rope upon three more of the
camels. But it is foolishness, and we are all going
to our death. Now come with me, and we shall
awaken the women and tell them."
The Colonel shook his companions and whis-
pered to them what was in the wind. Belmont
and Fardet were ready for any risk. Stephens, to
whom the prospect of a passive death presented
little terror, was seized with a convulsion of fear
when he thought of any active exertion to avoid
it, and shivered in all his long, thin limbs. Then
he pulled out his Baedeker and began to write
230 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
his will upon the flyleaf, but his hand twitched
so that he was hardly legible. By some strange
gymnastic of the legal mind a death, even by
violence, if accepted quietly, had a place in the
established order of things, while a death which
overtook one galloping frantically over a desert
was wholly irregular and discomposing. It was
not dissolution which he feared, but the humilia-
tion and agony of a fruitless struggle against it.
Colonel Cochrane and Tippy Tilly had crept
together under the shadow of the great acacia
tree to the spot where the women were lying.
Sadie and her aunt lay with their arms round
each other, the girl's head pillowed upon the old
woman's bosom. Mrs. Belmont was awake, and
entered into the scheme in an instant.
"But you must leave me," said Miss Adams
earnestly. " What does it matter at my age,
anyhow ? "
" No, no, Aunt Eliza ; I won't move without
you ! Don't you think it ! " cried the girl.
" You've got to come straight away, or else we
both stay right here where we are."
" Come, come, ma'am, there is no time for
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 231
arguing, or nonsense," said the Colonel roughly.
" Our lives all depend upon your making an effort,
and we cannot possibly leave you behind."
« But I will fall off."
I'll tie you on with my puggaree. I wish I
had the cummerbund which I lent poor Stuart.
Now, Tippy, I think we might make a break
for it ! "
But the black soldier had been staring with a
disconsolate face out over the desert, and he turned
upon his heel with an oath.
" There ! " said he sullenly. " You see what
comes of all your foolish talking ! You have
ruined our chances as well as your own ! "
Half-a-dozen mounted camel-men had appeared
suddenly over the lip of the bowl-shaped hollow,
standing out hard and clear against the evening
sky where the copper basin met its great blue lid.
They were travelling fast, and waved their rifles
as they came. An instant later the bugle sounded
an alarm, and the camp was up with a buzz like
an overturned bee-hive. The Colonel ran back
to his companions, and the black soldier to his
camel. Stephens looked relieved, and Belmont
232 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
sulky, while Monsieur Fardet raved, with his one
uninjured hand in the air.
" Sacred name of a dog ! " he cried. " Is there
no end to it, then ? Are we never to come out of
the hands of these accursed Dervishes ? "
" Oh, they really are Dervishes, are they ? " said
the Colonel in an acid voice. " You seem to be
altering your opinions. I thought they were an
invention of the British Government."
The poor fellows' tempers were getting frayed
and thin. The Colonel's sneer was like a match
to a magazine, and in an instant the Frenchman
was dancing in front of him with a broken torrent
of angry words. His hand was clutching at
Cochrane's throat before Belmont and Stephens
could pull him off.
" If it were not for your grey hairs " he said
" Damn your impudence ! " cried the Colonel.
" If we have to die, let us die like gentlemen,
and not like so many corner-boys," said Belmont
" I only said I was glad to see that Monsieur
Fardet has learned something from his adven-
tures," the Colonel sneered.
HIS HAND WAS CLUTCHING AT COCHRANE's THROAT.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 235
" Shut up, Cochrane ! What do you want to
aggravate him for ? " cried the Irishman.
" Upon my word, Belmont, you forget yourself !
I do not permit people to address me in this
"You should look after your own manners,
" Gentlemen, gentlemen, here are the ladies ! "
cried Stephens, and the angry, overstrained men
relapsed into a gloomy silence, pacing up and
down, and jerking viciously at their moustaches.
It is a very catching thing, ill-temper, for even
Stephens began to be angry at their anger, and
to scowl at them as they passed him. Here they
were at a crisis in their fate, with the shadow
of death above them, and yet their minds were all
absorbed in some personal grievance so slight that
they could hardly put it into words. Misfortune
brings the human spirit to a rare height, but the
pendulum still swings.
But soon their attention was drawn away to
more important matters. A council of war was
being held beside the wells, and the two Emirs,
stern and composed, were listening to a voluble
236 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
report from the leader of the patrol. The
prisoners noticed that, though the fierce, old
man stood like a graven image, the younger
Emir passed his hand over his beard once or
twice with a nervous gesture, the thin, brown
fingers twitching among the long, black hair.
" I believe the Gippies are after us," said
Belmont. u Not very far off either, to judge by
the fuss they are making."
" It looks like it. Something has scared
" Now he's giving orders. What can it be ?
Here, Mansoor, what is the matter ? "
The dragoman came running up with the light
of hope shining upon his brown face.
" I think they have seen something to frighten
them. I believe that the soldiers are behind us.
They have given the order to fill the water-skins,
and be ready for a start when the darkness
comes. But I am ordered to gather you to-
gether, for the Moolah is coming to convert you
all. I have already told him that you are all very
much inclined to think the same with him."
How far Mansoor may have gone with his
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 237
assurances may never be known, but the Mus-
sulman preacher came walking towards them at
this moment with a paternal and contented smile
upon his face, as one who has a pleasant and
easy task before him. He was a one-eyed man,
with a fringe of grizzled beard and a face which
was fat, but which looked as if it had once been
fatter, for it was marked with many folds and
creases. He had a green turban upon his head,
which marked him as a Mecca pilgrim. In one
hand he carried a small brown carpet, and in
the other a parchment copy of the Koran.
Laying his carpet upon the ground, he motioned
Mansoor to his side, and then gave a circular
sweep of his arm to signify that the prisoners
should gather round him, and a downward wave
which meant that they should be seated. So
they grouped themselves round him, sitting on
the short green sward under the palm-tree, these
seven forlorn representatives of an alien creed,
and in the midst of them sat the fat little
preacher, his one eye dancing from face to face
as he expounded the principles of his newer,
cruder, and more earnest faith. They listened
238 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
attentively and nodded their heads as Mansoor
translated the exhortation, and with each sign
of their acquiescence the Moolah became more
amiable in his manner and more affectionate in
"For why should you die, my sweet lambs,
when all that is asked of you is that you should
set aside that which will carry you to everlasting
Gehenna, and accept the law of Allah as written
by his prophet, which will assuredly bring you
unimaginable joys, as is promised in the Book
of the Camel ? For what says the chosen one ? "
— and he broke away into one of those dogmatic
texts which pass in every creed as an argument.
" Besides, is it not clear that God is with us, since
from the beginning, when we had but sticks
against the rifles of the Turks, victory has always
been with us ? Have we not taken El Obeid, and
taken Khartoum, and destroyed Hicks and slain
Gordon, and prevailed against every one who has
come against us ? How, then, can it be said that
the blessing of Allah does not rest upon us?"
The Colonel had been looking about him
during the long exhortation of the Moolah, and
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 239
he had observed that the Dervishes were cleaning
their guns, counting their cartridges, and making
all the preparations of men who expected that
they might soon be called upon to fight. The
two Emirs were conferring together with grave
faces, and the leader of the patrol pointed, as he
spoke to them, in the direction of Egypt. It was
evident that there was at least a chance of a
rescue if they could only keep things going for a
few more hours. The camels were not recovered
yet from their long march, and the pursuers, if
they were indeed close behind, were almost certain
to overtake them.
" For God's sake, Fardet, try and keep him in
play," said he. " I believe we have a chance if we
can only keep the ball rolling for another hour
But a Frenchman's wounded dignity is not so
easily appeased. Monsieur Fardet sat moodily
with his back against the palm-tree, and his black
brows drawn down. He said nothing, but he still
pulled at his thick, strong moustache.
" Come on, Fardet ! We depend upon you,"
240 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" Let Colonel Cochrane do it," the Frenchman
answered snappishly. " He takes too much upon
himself, this Colonel Cochrane."
" There ! There ! " said Belmont soothingly, as
if he were speaking to a fractious child. " I
am quite sure that the Colonel will express his
regret at what has happened, and will acknow-
ledge that he was in the wrong "
" I'll do nothing of the sort," snapped the
" Besides, that is merely a personal quarrel,"
Belmont continued hastily. " It is for the
good of the whole party that we wish you to
speak with the Moolah, because we all feel that
you are the best man for the job."
But the Frenchman only shrugged his shoulders
and relapsed into a deeper gloom.
The Moolah looked from one to the other,
and the kindly expression began to fade away
from his large, baggy face. His mouth drew
down at the corners, and became hard and
" Have these infidels been playing with us,
then ? " said he to the dragoman. " Why is
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOEOSKO 241
it that they talk among themselves and have
nothing to say to me ? "
"He's getting impatient about it," said Coch-
rane. "Perhaps I had better do what I can,
Belmont, since this damned fellow has left us
in the lurch."
But the ready wit of a woman saved the
" I am sure, Monsieur Fardet," said Mrs.
Belmont, " that you, who are a Frenchman, and
therefore a man of gallantry and honour, would
not permit your own wounded feelings to inter-
fere with the fulfilment of your promise and your
duty towards three helpless ladies."
Fardet was on his feet in an instant, with
his hand over his heart.
"You understand my nature, madame," he
cried. " I am incapable of abandoning a lady.
I will do all that I can in this matter. Now,
Mansoor, you may tell the holy man that I
am ready to discuss through you the high
matters of his faith with him."
And he did it with an ingenuity which
amazed his companions. He took the tone
242 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
of a man who is strongly attracted, and yet
has one single remaining shred of doubt to
hold him back. Yet as that one shred was
torn away by the Moolah, there was always
some other stubborn little point which pre-
vented his absolute acceptance of the faith of
Islam. And his questions were all so mixed
up with personal compliments to the priest and
self-congratulations that they should have come
under the teachings of so wise a man and so
profound a theologian, that the hanging pouches
under the Moolah's eyes quivered with his satis-
faction, and he was led happily and hopefully
onwards from explanation to explanation, while
the blue overhead turned into violet, and the
green leaves into black, until the great serene
stars shone out once more between the crowns
of the palm-trees.
" As to the learning of which you speak, my
lamb," said the Moolah, in answer to some
argument of Fardet's, " I have myself studied
at the University of El Azhar at Cairo, and I
know that to which you allude. But the learn-
ing of the faithful is not as the learning of
THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 243
the unbeliever, and it is not fitting that we
pry too deeply into the ways of Allah. Some
stars have tails, oh my sweet lamb, and some
have not ; but what does it profit us to know
which are which ? For God made them all,
and they are very safe in His hands. There-
fore, my friend, be not puffed up by the foolish
learning of the West, and understand that there
is only one wisdom, which consists in following
the will of Allah as His chosen prophet has
laid it down for us in this book. And now,
my lambs, I see that you are ready to come
into Islam, and it is time, for that bugle tells
that we are about to march, and it was the
order of the excellent Emir Abderrahman that
your choice should be taken, one way or the
other, before ever we left the wells."
" Yet, my father, there are other points upon
which I would gladly have instruction," said the
Frenchman, " for, indeed, it is a pleasure to hear
your clear words after the cloudy accounts which
we have had from other teachers."
But the Moolah had risen, and a gleam of
suspicion twinkled in his single eye.
244 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" This further instruction may well come after-
wards," said he, " since Ave shall travel together as
far as Khartoum, and it will be a joy to me to
see you grow in wisdom and in virtue as we go."
He walked over to the fire, and stooping down,
with the pompous slowness of a stout man, he
returned with two half-charred sticks, which he
laid cross- wise upon the ground. The Dervishes
came clustering over to see the new converts ad-
mitted into the fold. They stood round in the
dim light, tall and fantastic, with the high necks
and supercilious heads of the camels swaying
" Now," said the Moolah, and his voice had
lost its conciliatory and persuasive tone, "there
is no more time for you. Here upon the ground
I have made out of two sticks the foolish and
superstitious symbol of your former creed. You
will trample upon it, as a sign that you renounce
it, and you will kiss the Koran, as a sign that
you accept it, and what more you need in the
way of instruction shall be given to you as you
They stood up, the four men and the three
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 245
women, to meet the crisis of their fate. None
of them, except perhaps Miss Adams and Mrs.
Belmont, had any deep religious convictions. All
of them were children of this world, and some
of them disagreed with everything which that
symbol upon the earth represented. But there
was the European pride, the pride of the white
race which swelled within them, and held them
to the faith of their countrymen. It was a
sinful, human, un-Christian motive, and yet it
was about to make them public martyrs to the
Christian creed. In the hush and tension of
their nerves low sounds grew suddenly loud
upon their ears. Those swishing palm-leaves
above them were like a swift-flowing river, and
far away they could hear the dull, soft thudding
of a galloping camel.
" There's something coming," whispered Coch-
rane. " Try and stave them off for five minutes
The Frenchman stepped out with a courteous
wave of his uninjured arm, and the air of a man
who is prepared to accommodate himself to any-
246 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" You will tell this holy man that I am quite
ready to accept his teaching, and so I am sure
are all my friends," said he to the dragoman.
"But there is one thing which I should wish
him to do in order to set at rest any possible
doubts which may remain in our hearts. Every
true religion can be told by the miracles which
those who profess it can bring about. Even I
who am but a humble Christian, can, by virtue
of my religion, do some of these. But you, since
your religion is superior, can no doubt do far
more, and so I beg you to give us a sign that
we may be able to say that we know that the
religion of Islam is the more powerful."
Behind all his dignity and reserve, the Arab
has a good fund of curiosity. The hush among
the listening Arabs showed how the words of the
Frenchman as translated by Mansoor appealed
" Such things are in the hands of Allah," said
the priest. " It is not for us to disturb His laws.
But if you have yourself such powers as you claim,
let us be witnesses to them."
The Frenchman stepped forward, and raising
HE TOOK A SHINING DATE OUT OF THE MOOLAH'S BEARD.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 249
his hand he took a large, shining date out of the
Moolah's beard. This he swallowed and immedi-
ately produced once more from his left elbow.
He had often given his little conjuring entertain-
ment on board the boat, and his fellow-passengers
had had some good-natured laughter at his ex-
pense, for he was not quite skilful enough to
deceive the critical European intelligence. But
now it looked as if this piece of obvious palming
might be the point upon which all their fates
would hang. A deep hum of surprise rose from
the ring of Arabs, and deepened as the French-
man drew another date from the nostril of a
camel and tossed it into the air, from which,
apparently, it never descended. That gaping
sleeve was obvious enough to his companions,
but the dim light was all in favour of the per-
former. So delighted and interested was the
audience that they paid little heed to a mounted
camel-man who trotted swiftly between the palm
trunks. All might have been well had not Far-
det, carried away by his own success, tried to
repeat his trick once more, with the result that
the date fell out of his palm, and the deception
250 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
stood revealed. In vain he tried to pass on at
once to another of his little stock. The Moolah
said something, and an Arab struck Fardet across
the shoulders with the thick shaft of his spear.
"We have had enough child's play," said the
angry priest. " Are we men or babes, that you
should try to impose upon us in this manner?
Here is the cross and the Koran — which shall
it be ? "
Fardet looked helplessly round at his com-
," I can do no more ; you asked for five minutes.
You have had them," said he to Colonel Cochrane.
"And perhaps it is enough," the soldier
answered. " Here are the Emirs."
The camel- man, whose approach they had
heard from afar, had made for the two Arab
chiefs, and had delivered a brief report to them,
stabbing with his forefinger in the direction from
which he had come. There was a rapid exchange
of words between the Emirs, and then they strode
forward together to the group around the prisoners.
Bigots and barbarians, they were none the less
two most majestic men, as they advanced through
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 251
the twilight of the palm grove. The fierce old
greybeard raised his hand and spoke swiftly in
short, abrupt sentences, and his savage followers
yelped to him like hounds to a huntsman. The
fire that smouldered in his arrogant eyes shone
back at him from a hundred others. Here were
to be read the strength and danger of the Mahdi
movement ; here in these convulsed faces, in that
fringe of waving arms, in these frantic, red-hot
souls, who asked nothing better than a bloody
death, if their own hands might be bloody when
they met it.
" Have the prisoners embraced the true faith ? "
asked the Emir Abderrahman, looking at them
with his cruel eyes.
The Moolah had his reputation to preserve, and
it was not for him to confess to a failure.
" They were about to embrace it, when "
" Let it rest for a little time, Moolah." He
gave an order, and the Arabs all sprang for their
camels. The Emir Wad Ibrahim filed off at once
with nearly half the party. The others were
mounted and ready, with their rifles unslung.
" What's happened ? " asked Belmont.
252 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" Things are looking up," cried the Colonel.
" By George, I think we are going to come
through all right. The Gippy Camel Corps are
hot on our trail."
" How do you know ? "
" What else could have scared them ? "
" Colonel, do you really think we shall be
saved ? " sobbed Sadie. The dull routine of misery
through which they had passed had deadened all
their nerves until they seemed incapable of any
acute sensation, but now this sudden return of
hope brought agony with it like the recovery of a
frost-bitten limb. Even the strong, self-contained
Belmont was filled with doubts and apprehensions.
He had been hopeful when there was no sign
of relief, and now the approach of it set him
" Surely they wouldn't come very weak," he
cried. "Be Jove, if the Commandant let them
come weak, he should be court-martialled."
" Sure we're in God's hands, anyway," said his
wife, in her soothing, Irish voice. " Kneel down
with me, John, dear, if it's the last time, and pray
that, earth or heaven, we may not be divided."
"FOR your life s sake, STAND Ul
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 255
"Don't do that! Don't!" cried the Colonel
anxiously, for he saw that the eye of the Moolah
was upon them. But it was too late, for the two
Koman Catholics had dropped upon their knees
and crossed themselves. A spasm of fury passed
over the face of the Mussulman priest at this public
testimony to the failure of his missionary efforts.
He turned and said something to the Emir.
" Stand up ! " cried Mansoor. " For your life's
sake, stand up ! He is asking for leave to put
you to death."
" Let him do what he likes ! " said the obstinate
Irishman ; " we will rise when our prayers are
finished, and not before."
The Emir stood listening to the Moolah, with
his baleful gaze upon the two kneeling figures.
Then he gave one or two rapid orders, and four
camels were brought forward. The baggage-
camels which they had hitherto ridden were stand-
ing unsaddled where they had been tethered.
" Don't be a fool, Belmont ! " cried the Colonel ;
" everything depends upon our humouring them.
Do get up, Mrs. Belmont ! You are only putting
their backs up ! "
256 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders as he
looked at them. " Mon Dieu ! " he cried, " were
there ever such impracticable people ? Voilci ! "
he added, with a shriek, as the two American
ladies fell upon their knees beside Mrs. Belmont.
" It is like the camels — one down, all down !
Was ever anything so absurd ? "
But Mr. Stephens had knelt down beside Sadie
and buried his haggard face in his long, thin
hands. Only the Colonel and Monsieur Fardet
remained standing. Cochrane looked at the
Frenchman with an interrogative eye.
" After all," said he, " it is stupid to pray all
your life, and not to pray now when we have
nothing to hope for except through the goodness
of Providence." He dropped upon his knees with
a rigid, military back, but his grizzled, unshaven
chin upon his chest. The Frenchman looked
at his kneeling companions, and then his eyes
travelled onwards to the angry faces of the Emir
" Sapristi ! " he growled. " Do they suppose
that a Frenchman is afraid of them ? " and so,
with an ostentatious sign of the cross, he took his
"DON'T FRET, JOHN!" CRIED HIS WIFE,
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 259
place upon his knees beside the others. Foul,
bedraggled, and wretched, the seven figures knelt
and waited humbly for 'their fate under the black
shadow of the palm-tree.
The Emir turned to the Moolah with a mocking
smile, and pointed at the results of his ministra-
tions. Then he gave an order, and in an instant
the four men were seized. A couple of deft turns
with a camel-halter secured each of their wrists.
Fardet screamed out, for the rope had bitten into
his open wound. The others took it with the
dignity of despair.
" You have ruined everything. I believe you
have ruined me also ! " cried Mansoor, wringing
his hands. " The women are to get upon these
" Never ! " cried Belmont. " We won't be
separated ! " He plunged madly, but he was
weak from privation, and two strong men held
him by each elbow.
" Don't fret, John ! " cried his wife, as they
hurried her towards the camel. " No harm shall
come to me. Don't struggle, or they'll hurt
260 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
The four men writhed as they saw the women
dragged away from them. All their agonies had
been nothing to this. Sadie and her aunt
appeared to be half senseless from fear. Only
Mrs. Belmont kept a brave face. When they
were seated the camels rose, and were led under
the tree behind where the four men were
" I've a pistol in me pocket," said Belmont,
looking up at his wife. " I would give me soul
to be able to pass it to you."
" Keep it, John, and it may be useful yet. I
have no fears. Ever since we prayed I have felt
as if our guardian angels had their wings round
us." She was like a guardian angel herself as
she turned to the shrinking Sadie, and coaxed
some little hope back into her dispairing heart.
The short, thick Arab, who had been in com-
mand of Wad Ibrahim's rearguard, had joined
the Emir and the Moolah ; the three consulted
together, with occasional oblique glances towards
the prisoners. Then the Emir spoke to Mansoor.
" The chief wishes to know which of you four
is the richest man ? " said the dragoman. His
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 261
fingers were twitching with nervousness and
plucking incessantly at the front of his cover-
" Why does he wish to know ? " asked the
" I do not know."
" But it is evident," cried Monsieur Fardet.
" He wishes to know which is the best worth
keeping for his ransom."
" I think we should see this thing through
together," said the Colonel. " It's really for you
to decide, Stephens, for I have no doubt that you
are the richest of us."
" I don't know that I am," the lawyer answered ;
" but in any case, I have no wish to be placed
upon a different footing to the others."
The Emir spoke again in his harsh rasping
" He says," Mansoor translated, " that the bag-
gage-camels are spent, and that there is only one
beast left which can keep up. It is ready now
for one of you, and you have to decide among
yourselves which is to have it. If one is richer
than the others, he will have the preference."
262 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" Tell him that we are all equally rich."
" In that case he says that you are to choose
at once which is to have the camel.''
" And the others ? "
The dragoman shrugged his shoulders.
" Well," said the Colonel, " if only one of us
is to escape, I think you fellows will agree with
me that it ought to be Belmont, since he is the
"Yes, yes, let it be Monsieur Belmont," cried
" I think so also," said Stephens.
But the Irishman would not hear of it.
"No, no, share and share alike," he cried. "All
sink or all swim, and the devil take the flincher."
They wrangled among themselves until they
became quite heated in this struggle of unselfish-
ness. Some one had said that the Colonel should
go because he was the oldest, and the Colonel was
a very angry man.
" One would think I was an octogenarian," he
cried. " These remarks are quite uncalled for."
" Well, then," said Belmont, " let us all refuse
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 263
" But this is not very wise," cried the French-
man. " See, my friends ! Here are the ladies
being carried off alone. Surely it would be far
better that one of us should be with them to
They looked at one another in perplexity.
What Fardet said was obviously true, but how
could one of them desert his comrades ? The
Emir himself suggested the solution.
" The chief says," said Mansoor, " that if you
cannot settle who is to go, you had better leave
it to Allah and draw lots."
" I don't think we can do better," said the
Colonel, and his three companions nodded their
It was the Moolah who approached them
with four splinters of palm-bark protruding
from between his fingers.
" He says that he who draws the longest has
the camel," said Mansoor.
" We must agree to abide absolutely by this,"
said Cochrane, and again his companions nodded.
The Dervishes had formed a semicircle in
front of them, with a fringe of the oscillating
264 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
heads of the camels. Before them was a cooking
fire, which threw its red light over the group.
The Emir was standing with his back to it, and
his fierce face towards the prisoners. Behind the
four men was a line of guards, and behind them
again the three women, who looked down from
their camels upon this tragedy. With a malicious
smile, the fat, one-eyed Moolah advanced with
his fist closed, and the four little brown spicules
protruding from between his fingers.
It was to Belmont that he held them first.
The Irishman gave an involuntary groan, and
his wife gasped behind him, for the splinter
came away in his hand. Then it was the
Frenchman's turn, and his was half an inch
longer than Belmont's. Then came Colonel
Cochrane, whose piece was longer than the two
others put together. Stephens' was no bigger
than Belmont's. The Colonel was the winner
of this terrible lottery.
" You're welcome to my place, Belmont,"
said he. " I've neither wife nor child, and hardly
a friend in the world. Go with your wife, and
THE COLONEL WAS THE WINNER OF THIS TERRIBLE LOTTERY.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 267
" No, indeed ! An agreement is an agree-
ment. It's all fair play, and the prize to the
"The Emir says that you are to mount at
once," said Mansoor, and an Arab dragged the
Colonel by his wrist-rope to the waiting camel.
" He will stay with the rearguard," said the
Emir to his lieutenant. "You can keep the
women with you also."
" And this dragoman dog ? "
" Put him with the others."
" And they ? "
" Put them all to death.
As none of the three could understand Arabic,
the order of the Emir would have been unintel-
ligible to them had it not been for the conduct
of Mansoor. The unfortunate dragoman, after ah
his treachery and all his subservience and apos-
tasy, found his worst fears realised when the
Dervish leader gave his curt command. With
a shriek of fear the poor wretch threw himself
forward upon his face, and clutched at the edge
of the Arab's jibbeh, clawing with his brown
fingers at the edge of the cotton skirt. The
Emir tugged to free himself, and then, finding
that he was still held by that convulsive grip, he
turned and kicked at Mansoor with the vicious
impatience with which one drives off a pestering
cur. The dragoman's high red tarboosh flew up
into the air, and he lay groaning upon his face
where the" stunning blow of the Arab's horny foot
had left him.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO 269
All was bustle and movement in the camp, for
the old Emir had mounted his camel, and some
of his party were already beginning to follow
their companions. The squat lieutenant, the
Moolah, and about a dozen Dervishes surrounded
the prisoners. They had not mounted their
camels, for they were told off to be the ministers
of death. The three men understood as they
looked upon their faces that the sand was run-
ning very low in the glass of their lives. Their
hands were still bound, but their guards had
ceased to hold them. They turned round, all
three, and said good-bye to the women upon the
" All up now, Norah," said Belmont. " It's
hard luck when there was a chance of a rescue,
but we've done our best."
For the first time his wife had broken down.
She was sobbing convulsively, with her face
between her hands.
" Don't cry, little woman ! We've had a good
time together. Give my love to all friends at
Bray ! Remember me to Amy McCarthy and to
the Blessingtons. You'll find there is enough
270 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
and to spare, but I would take Rogers's advice
about the investments. Mind that ! "
" O John, I won't live without you ! " Sorrow
for her sorrow broke the strong man down, and
he buried his face in the hairy side of her camel.
The two of them sobbed helplessly together.
Stephens meanwhile had pushed his way to
Sadie's beast. She saw his worn earnest face
looking up at her through the dim light.
" Don't be afraid for your aunt and for your-
self," said he. " I am sure that you will escape.
Colonel Cochrane will look after you. The
Egyptians cannot be far behind. I do hope you
will have a good drink before you leave the
wells. I wish I could give your aunt my jacket,
for it will be cold to-night. I'm afraid I can't
get it off. She should keep some of the bread,
and eat it in the early morning."
He spoke quite quietly, like a man who is
arranging the details of a picnic. A sudden glow
of admiration for this quietly consistent man
warmed her impulsive heart.
" How unselfish you are ! " she cried. " I never
saw any one like you. Talk about saints ! There
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 271
you stand in the very presence of death, and you
think only of us."
" I want to say a last word to you, Sadie, if
you don't mind. I should die so much happier.
I have * often wanted to speak to you, but I
thought that perhaps you would laugh, for you
never took anything very seriously, did you ?
That was quite natural of course with your high
spirits, but still it was very serious to me. But
now I am really a dead man, so it does not
matter very much what I say."
"Oh don't, Mr. Stephens !" cried the girl.
" I won't, if it is very painful to you. As I
said, it would make me die happier, but I don't
want to be selfish about it. If I thought it would
darken your life afterwards, or be a sad recollec-
tion to you, I would not say another word."
" What did you wish to say ? "
" It was only to tell you how I loved you. I
always loved you. From the first I was a diffe-
rent man when I was with you. But of course
it was absurd, I knew that well enough. I never
said anything, and I tried not to make myself
ridiculous. But I just want you to know about
272 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
it now that it can't matter one way or the other.
You'll understand that I really do love you when
I tell you that, if it were not that I knew you
were frightened and unhappy, these last two days
in which we have been always together would have
been infinitely the happiest of my life."
The girl sat pale and silent, looking down with
wondering eyes at his upturned face. She did
not know what to do or say in the solemn pre-
sence of this love which burned so brightly unde
the shadow of death. To her child's heart it
seemed incomprehensible — and yet she under-
stood that it was sweet and beautiful also.
" I won't say any more," said he ; "I can see
that it only bothers you. But I wanted you to
know, and now you do know, so it is all right.
Thank you for listening so patiently and gently.
Good-bye, little Sadie ! I can't put my hand up.
Will you put yours down ? "
She did so and Stephens kissed it. Then he
turned and took his place once more between
Belmont and Fardet. In his whole life of struggle
and success he had never felt such a glow of
quiet contentment as suffused him at that in-
GOOD-BYE, LITTLE SADIE
THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO 275
stant when the grip of death was closing upon
him. There is no arguing about love.- It is the
innermost fact of life — the one which obscures
and changes all the others, the only one which
is absolutely satisfying and complete. Pain is
pleasure, and want is comfort, and death is sweet-
ness when once that golden mist is round it.
So it was that Stephens could have sung with joy
as he faced his murderers. He really had not
time to think about them. The important, all-
engrossing, delightful thing was that she could
.not look upon him as a casual acquaintance any
more. Through all her life she would think of
him — she would know.
Colonel Cochrane's camel was at one side, and
the old soldier, whose wrists had been freed, had
been looking down upon the scene, and wondering
in his tenacious way whether all hope must really
be abandoned. It was evident that the Arabs
who were grouped round the victims were to re-
main behind with them, while the others who
were mounted would guard the three women and
himself. He could not understand why the
throats of his companions had not been already
276 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
cut, unless it were that with an Eastern refine-
ment of cruelty this rearguard would wait until
the Egyptians were close to them, so that the
warm bodies of their victims might be an insult
to the pursuers. No doubt that was the right
explanation. The Colonel had heard of such a
But in that case there would not be more than
twelve Arabs with the prisoners. Were there
any of the friendly ones among them ? If Tippy
Tilly and six of his men were there, and if
Belmont could get his arms free and his hand
upon his revolver, they might come through yet.
The Colonel craned his neck and groaned in his
disappointment. He could see the faces of the
guards in the firelight. They were all Baggara
Arabs, men who were beyond either pity or
bribery. Tippy Tilly and the others must have
gone on with the advance. For the first time
the stiff old soldier abandoned hope.
" Good-bye, you fellows ! God bless you ! " he
cried, as a negro pulled at his camel's nose-ring
and made him follow the others. The women
came after him, in a misery too deep for words.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 277
Their departure was a relief to the three men
who were left.
" I am glad they are gone," said Stephens, from
" Yes, yes, it is better," cried Fardet. " How
long are we to wait ? "
" Not very long now," said Belmont grimly, as
the Arabs closed in around them.
The Colonel and the three women gave one
backward glance when they came to the edge
of the oasis. Between the straight stems of the
palms they saw the gleam of the fire, and above
the group of Arabs they caught a last glimpse
of the three white hats. An instant later, the
camels began to trot, and when they looked
back once more the palm grove was only a black
clump with the vague twinkle of a light some-
where in the heart of it. As with yearning eyes
they gazed at that throbbing red point in the
darkness, they passed over the edge of the de-
pression, and in an instant the huge, silent,
moonlit desert was round them without a sign
of the oasis which they had left. On every side
the velvet, blue-black sky, with its blazing stars,
278 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
sloped downwards to the vast, dun-coloured plain.
The two were blurred into one at their point of
The women had sat in the silence of despair,
and the Colonel had been silent also — for what
could he say ? — but suddenly all four started in
their saddles, and Sadie gave a sharp cry of
dismay. In the hush of the night there had come
from behind them the petulant crack of a rifle,
then another, then several together, with a brisk
rat-tat-tat, and then, after an interval, one more.
" It may be the rescuers ! It may be the
Egyptians ! " cried Mrs. Belmont, with a sudden
flicker of hope. " Colonel Cochrane, don't you
think it may be the Egyptians ? "
" Yes, yes," Sadie whimpered. " It must be
The Colonel had listened expectantly, but all
was silent again. Then he took his hat off with
a solemn gesture.
" There is no use deceiving ourselves, Mrs
Belmont," said he ; " we may as well face the
truth. Our friends are gone from us, but they
have met their end like brave men."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 279
" But why should they fire their guns ? They
had . . . they had spears." She shuddered as
she said it.
"That is true," said the Colonel. "I would not
for the world take away any real grounds of
hope which you may have ; but on the other hand,
there is no use in preparing bitter disappoint-
ments for ourselves. If we had been listening
to an attack, we should have heard some reply.
Besides, an Egyptian attack would have been an
attack in force. No doubt it is, as you say, a
little strange that they should have wasted their
cartridges — by Jove, look at that ! "
He was pointing over the eastern desert. Two
figures were moving across its expanse, swiftly
and stealthily, furtive dark shadows against the
lighter ground. They saw them dimly, dipping
and rising over the rolling desert, now lost, now
reappearing in the uncertain light. They were
flying away from the Arabs. And then, suddenly
they halted upon the summit of a sand-hill, and the
prisoners could see them outlined plainly against
the sky. They were camel-men, but they sat their
camels astride as a horseman sits his horse.
280 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" Gippy Camel Corps ! " cried the Colonel.
"Two men," said Miss Adams, in a voice of
" Only a vedette, ma'am ! Throwing feelers out
all over the desert. This is one of them. Main
body ten miles off, as likely as not. There they
go giving the alarm ! Good old Camel Corps ! "
The self-contained, methodical soldier had sud-
denly turned almost inarticulate with his excite-
ment. There was a red flash upon the top of the
sand-hill, and then another, followed by the crack
of the rifles. Then with a whisk the two figures
were gone, as swiftly and silently as two trout in
The Arabs had halted for an instant, as if
uncertain whether they should delay their jour-
ney to pursue them or not. There was nothing
left to pursue now, for amid the undulations of
the sand-drift the vedettes might have gone in
any direction. The Emir galloped back along
the line, with exhortations and orders. Then
the camels began to trot, and the hopes of the
prisoners were dulled by the agonies of the
terrible jolt. Mile after mile, and mile after mile,
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 281
they sped onwards over that vast expanse, the
women clinging as best they might to the pom-
mels, the Colonel almost as spent as they, but
still keenly on the look-out for any sign of the
"I think ... I think," cried Mrs. Belmont,
" that something is moving in front of us."
The Colonel raised himself upon his saddle, and
screened his eyes from the moonshine.
" By Jove, you're right there, ma'am. There
are men over yonder."
They could all see them now, a straggling line
of riders far ahead of them in the desert.
" They are going in the same direction as we,"
cried Mrs. Belmont, whose eyes were very much
better than the Colonel's.
Cochrane muttered an oath into his moustache.
" Look at the tracks there," said he ; " of course,
it's our own vanguard who left the palm grove
before us. The chief keeps us at this infernal
pace in order to close up with them."
As they drew closer they could see plainly that
it was indeed the other body of Arabs, and pre-
sently the Emir Wad Ibrahim came trotting
282 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
back to take counsel with the Emir Abderrah-
man. They pointed in the direction in which the
vedettes had appeared, and shook their heads
like men who have many and grave misgivings.
Then the raiders joined into one long, straggling
line, and the whole body moved steadily on
towards the Southern Cross, which was twinkling
just over the skyline in front of them. Hour
after hour the dreadful trot continued, while
the fainting ladies clung on convulsively, and
Cochrane, worn out but indomitable, encouraged
them to hold out, and peered backwards over the
desert for the. first glad signs of their pursuers.
The blood throbbed in his temples, and he cried
that he heard the roll of drums coming out of the
darkness. In his feverish delirium he saw clouds
of pursuers at their very heels, and during the
long night he was for ever crying glad, tidings
which ended in disappointment and heartache.
The rise of the sun showed the desert stretching
away around them with nothing moving upon its
monstrous face except themselves. With dull
eyes and heavy hearts they stared round at that
huge and empty expanse. Their hopes thinned
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 283
away like the light morning mist upon the
It was shocking to the ladies to look at their
companion, and to think of the spruce, hale old
soldier who had been their fellow-passenger from
Cairo. As in the case of Miss Adams, old age
seemed to have pounced upon him in one spring.
His hair, which had grizzled hour by hour dur-
ing his privations, was now of a silvery white.
White stubble, too, had obscured the firm, clean
line of his chin and throat. The veins of his
face were injected, and his features were shot
with heavy wrinkles. He rode with his back
arched and his chin sunk upon his breast, for the
old, time-rotted body was worn out, but in his
bright, alert eyes there was always a trace of the
gallant tenant who lived in the shattered house.
Delirious, spent, and dying, he preserved his
chivalrous, protecting air as he turned to the
ladies, shot little scraps of advice and encour-
agement at them, and peered back continually for
the help which never came.
An hour after sunrise the raiders called a halt,
and food and water were served out to all. Then
284 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
at a more moderate pace they pursued their
southern journey, their long, straggling line trail-
ing out over a quarter of a mile of desert. From
their more careless bearing and the way in which
they chatted as they rode, it was clear that they
thought that they had shaken off their pursuers.
Their direction now was east as well as south,
and it was evidently their intention after this
long detour to strike the Nile again at some
point far above the Egyptian outposts. Already
the character of the scenery was changing, and
they were losing the long levels of the pebbly
desert, and coming once more upon those fantas-
tic, sunburned, black rocks, and that rich orange
sand through which they had already passed.
On every side of them rose the scaly, conical
hills with their loose, slag-like debris, and jagged-
edged khors, with sinuous streams of sand run-
ning like water- courses down their centre. The
camels followed each other, twisting in and out
among the boulders, and scrambling with their
adhesive, spongy feet over places which would
have been impossible for horses. Among the
broken rocks those behind could sometimes only
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 285
see the long, undulating, darting necks of the
creatures in front, as if it were some nightmare
procession of serpents. Indeed, it had much the
effect of a dream upon the prisoners, for there
was no sound, save the soft, dull padding and
shuffling of the feet. The strange, wild frieze
moved slowly and silently onwards amid a setting
of black stone and yellow sand, with the one arch
of vivid blue spanning the rugged edges of the
Miss Adams, who had been frozen into silence
during the long cold night, began to thaw now
in the cheery warmth of the rising sun. She
looked about her, and rubbed her thin hands
" Why, Sadie," she remarked, " I thought I
heard you in the night, dear, and now I see that
you have been crying."
" I've been thinking, auntie."
"Well, we must try and think of others,
dearie, and not of ourselves."
" It's not of myself, auntie."
" Never fret about me, Sadie."
" No, auntie, I was not thinking of you."
286 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" Was it of any one in particular ? "
" Of Mr. Stephens, auntie. How gentle he
was, and how brave ! To think of him fixing up
every little thing for us, and trying to pull his
jacket over his poor roped-up hands, with those
murderers waiting all round him. He's my saint
and hero from now ever after."
" Well, he's out of his troubles anyhow," said
Miss Adams, with that bluntness which the
years bring with them.
" Then I wish I was also."
" I don't see how that would help him."
" Well, I think he might feel less lonesome,"
said Sadie, and drooped her saucy little chin
upon her breast.
The four had been riding in silence for some
little time, when the Colonel clapped his hand to
his brow with a gesture of dismay.
"Good God! " he cried, "I am going off my head."
Again and again they had perceived it during
the night, but he had seemed quite rational
since daybreak. They were shocked therefore
at this sudden outbreak, and tried to calm him
with soothing words.
ON THIS PINNACLE STOOD A SOLITARY, MOTIONLESS FIGURE.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 289
" Mad as a hatter," he shouted. " Whatever
do you think I saw ? "
" Don't trouble about it, whatever it was," said
Mrs. Belmont, laying her hand soothingly upon
his as the camels closed together. " It is no won-
der that you are overdone. You have thought
and worked for all of us so long. We shall
halt presently, and a few hours' sleep will quite
But the Colonel looked up again, and again he
cried out in his agitation and surprise.
" I never saw anything plainer in my life," he
groaned. " It is on the point of rock on our
right front — poor old Stuart with my red cum-
merbund round his head just the same as we left
The ladies had followed the direction of the
Colonel's frightened gaze, and in an instant they
were all as amazed as he.
There was a black, bulging ridge like a bastion
upon the right side of the terrible khor up
which the camels were winding. At one point
it rose into a small pinnacle. On this pinnacle
stood a solitary, motionless figure, clad entirely
290 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO
in black, save for a brilliant dash of scarlet
upon his head. There could not surely be two
such short sturdy figures, or such large colour-
less faces, in the Libyan Desert. His shoulders
were stooping forward, and he seemed to be star-
ing intently down into the ravine. His pose and
outline were like a caricature of the great Napoleon.
" Can it possibly be he ? "
" It must be. It is ! " cried the ladies. " You
see he is looking towards us and waving his hand.
" Good Heavens ! They'll shoot him ! Get
down, you fool, or you'll be shot ! " roared the
Colonel. But his dry throat would only emit
a discordant croaking.
Several of the Dervishes had seen the singular
apparition upon the hill, and had unslung their
Remingtons, but a long arm suddenly shot up
behind the figure of the Birmingham clergy-
man, a brown hand seized upon his skirts, and
he disappeared with a snap. Higher up the pass,
just below the spot where Mr. Stuart had been
standing, appeared the tall figure of the Emir
Abderrahman. He had sprung upon a boulder,
and was shouting and waving his arms, but the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 291
shouts were drowned in a long, rippling roar of
musketry from each side of the khor. The
bastion-like cliff was fringed with gun-barrels, with
red tarbooshes drooping over the triggers. From
the other lip also came the long spurts of flame
and the angry clatter of the rifles. The raiders
were caught in an ambuscade. The Emir fell, but
was up again and waving. There was a splotch of
blood upon his long white beard. He kept point-
ing and gesticulating, but his scattered followers
could not understand what he wanted. Some of
them came tearing down the pass, and some from
behind were pushing to the front. A few dis-
mounted and tried to climb up sword in hand to
that deadly line of muzzles, but one by one they
were hit, and came rolling from rock to rock to
the bottom of the ravine. The shooting was not
very good. One negro made his way unharmed
up the whole side, only to have his brains dashed
out with the butt-end of a Martini at the top.
The Emir had fallen off his rock and lay in a
crumpled heap, like a brown and white patch-
work quilt, at the bottom of it. And then when
half of them were down it became evident, even
292 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
to those exalted fanatical souls, that there was no
chance for them, and that they must get out
of these fatal rocks and into the desert again.
They galloped down the pass, and it is a frightful
thing to see a camel galloping over broken
ground. The beast's own terror, his ungainly
bounds, the sprawl of his four legs all in the air
together, his hideous cries, and the yells of his
rider who is bucked high from his saddle with
every spring, make a picture which is not to be
forgotten. The women screamed as this mad
torrent of frenzied creatures came pouring past
them, but the Colonel edged his camel and theirs
farther and farther in among the rocks and away
from the retreating Arabs. The air was full of
whistling bullets, and they could hear them
smacking loudly against the stones all round
" Keep quiet, and they'll pass us," whispered the
Colonel, who was all himself again now that the
hour for action had arrived. " I wish to Heaven
I could see Tippy Tilly or any of his friends.
Now is the time for them to help us." He
watched the mad stream of fugitives as they flew
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 293
past upon their shambling, squattering, loose-
jointed beasts, but the black face of the Egyptian
gunner was not among them.
And now it really did seem as if the whole
body of them, in their haste to get clear of the
ravine, had not a thought to spend upon the
prisoners. The rush was past, and only strag-
glers were running the gantlet of the fierce fire
which poured upon them from above. The last
of all, a young Baggara with a black moustache
and pointed beard, looked up as he passed and
shook his sword in impotent passion at the
Egyptian riflemen. At the same instant a bullet
struck his camel, and the creature collapsed, all
neck and legs, upon the ground. The young
Arab sprang off its back, and, seizing its nose-
ring, he beat it savagely with the flat of his sword
to make it stand up. But the dim, glazing eye
told its own tale, and in desert warfare the death
of the beast is the death of the rider. The
Baggara glared round like a lion at bay, his
dark eyes flashing murderously from under his
red turban. A crimson spot, and then another,
sprang out upon his dark skin, but he never
294 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
winced at the bullet wounds. His fierce gaze had
fallen upon the prisoners, and with an exultant
shout he was dashing towards them, his broad-
bladed sword gleaming above his head. Miss
Adams was the nearest to him, but at the sight of
the rushing figure and the maniac face she threw
herself off the camel upon the far side. The
Arab bounded on to a rock and aimed a thrust at
Mrs. Belmont, but before the point could reach
her the Colonel leaned forward with his pistol
and blew the man's head in. Yet with a con-
centrated rage, which was superior even to the
agony of death, the fellow lay kicking and strik-
ing, bounding about among the loose stones like
a fish upon the shingle.
" Don't be frightened, ladies," cried the Colonel.
" He is quite dead, I assure you. I am so sorry
to have done this in your presence, but the fellow
was dangerous. I had a little score of my own
to settle with him, for he was the man who tried
to break my ribs with his Kemington. I hope
you are not hurt, Miss Adams ! One instant, and
I will come down to you."
But the old Boston lady was by no means hurt,
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 295
for the rocks had been so high that she had a very
short distance to fall from her saddle. Sadie, Mrs.
Belmont, and Colonel Cochrane had all descended
by slipping on to the boulders and climbing down
from them. But they found Miss Adams on her
feet, and waving the remains of her green veil in
" Hurrah, Sadie ! Hurrah, my own darling
Sadie ! " she was shrieking. " We are saved, my
girl, we are saved after all."
" By George, so we are ! " cried the Colonel, and
they all shouted in an ecstasy together.
But Sadie had learned to think more about
others during those terrible days of schooling.
Her arms were round Mrs. Belmont, and her
cheek against hers.
" You dear, sweet angel," she cried, " how can
we have the heart to be glad when you — when
" But I don't believe it is so," cried the brave
Irishwoman. " No, 111 never believe it until I
see John's body lying before me. And when I
see that, I don't want to live to see anything
296 THE TKAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO
The last Dervish had clattered down the khor,
and now above them on either cliff they could
see the Egyptians — tall, thin, square shouldered
figures, looking, when outlined against the blue
sky, wonderfully like the warriors in the ancient
bas-reliefs. Their camels were in the back-
ground, and they were hurrying to join them.
At the same time others began to ride down from
the farther end of the ravine, their dark faces
flushed and their eyes shining with the excite-
ment of victory and pursuit. A very small Eng-
lishman, with a straw-coloured moustache and a
weary manner, was riding at the head of them.
He halted his camel beside the fugitives and
saluted the ladies. He wore brown boots and
brown belts with steel buckles, which looked trim
and workmanlike against his kharki uniform.
" Had 'em that time — had 'em proper ! " said
he. " Very glad to have been of any assistance,
I'm shaw. Hope you're none the worse for it all.
What I mean, it's rather rough work for ladies."
" You're from Haifa, I suppose ? " asked the
" No, we're from the other show. We're the
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 297
Sarras crowd, you know. We met in the desert,
and we headed 'em off, and the other Johnnies
herded 'em behind. We've got 'em on toast, I
tell you. Get up on that rock and you'll see
things happen. It's going to be a knockout in
one round this time."
"We left some of our people at the Wells.
We are very uneasy about them," said the Colonel.
" I suppose you haven't heard anything of them ? "
The young officer looked serious and shook his
head. "Bad job that!" said he. "They're a
poisonous crowd when you put 'em in a corner.
What I mean, we never expected to see you alive,
and we're very glad to pull any of you out of the
fire. The most we hoped was that we might
" Any other Englishman with you ? "
" Archer is with the flanking party. He'll have
to come past, for I don't think there is any other
way down. We've got one of your chaps up
there — a funny old bird with a red top-knot.
See you later, I hope ! Good day, ladies ! " He
touched his helmet, tapped his camel, and trotted
on after his men.
298 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
"We can't do better than stay where we are
until they are all past," said the Colonel, for it
was evident now that the men from above would
have to come round. In a broken single file
they went past, black men and brown, Soudanese
and fellaheen, but all of the best, for the Camel
Corps is the corps oVdite of the Egyptian army.
Each had a brown bandolier over his chest and
his rifle held across his thigh. A large man with
a drooping black moustache and a pair of bino-
culars in his hand was riding at the side of them.
" Hulloa, Archer ! " croaked the Colonel.
The officer looked at him with the vacant,
unresponsive eye of a complete stranger.
" I'm Cochrane, you know ! We travelled up
"Excuse me, sir, but you have the advantage
of me," said the officer. " I knew a Colonel
Cochrane Cochrane, but you are not the man.
He was three inches taller than you, with black
hair and "
" That's all right," cried the Colonel testily.
" You try a few days with the Dervishes, and see
if your friends will recognise you ! "
"YOU HAVEN'T got such a thing as a cigar?"
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 301
" Good God, Cochrane, is it really you ? I
could not have believed it. Great Scott, what
you must have been through ! I've heard before
of fellows going grey in a night, but, by
" Quite so," said the Colonel, flushing. " Allow
me to hint to you, Archer, that if you could get
some food and drink for these ladies, instead of
discussing my personal appearance, it would be
much more practical."
" That's all right," said Captain Archer. " Your
friend Stuart knows that you are here, and he is
bringing some stuff round for you. Poor fare, ladies,
but the best we have ! You're an old soldier,
Cochrane. Get up on the rocks presently, and
you'll see a lovely sight. No time to stop, for
we shall be in action again in five minutes.
Anything I can do before I go ? "
" You haven't got such a thing as a cigar ? "
asked the Colonel wistfully.
Archer drew a thick satisfying partaga from
his case, and handed it down, with half-a-dozen
wax vestas. Then he cantered after his men, and
the old soldier leaned back against the rock and
302 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
drew in the fragrant smoke. It was then that his
jangled nerves knew the full virtue of tobacco,
the gentle anodyne which stays the failing
strength and soothes the worrying brain. He
watched the dim blue reek swirling up from
him, and he felt the pleasant aromatic bite upon
his palate, while a restful languor crept over his
weary and harassed body. The three ladies sat
together upon a flat rock.
" Good land, what a sight you are, Sadie ! "
cried Miss Adams suddenly, and it was the first
reappearance of her old self. " What would your
mother say if she saw you ? Why, sakes alive,
your hair is full of straw and your frock clean
crazy I "
" I guess we all want some setting to rights,"
said Sadie, in a voice which was much more
subdued than that of the Sadie of old. " Mrs.
Belmont, you look just too perfectly sweet any-
how, but if you'll allow me I'll fix your dress for
But Mrs. Belmont's eyes were far away, and she
shook her head sadly as she gently put the girl's
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 303
" I do not care how I look. I cannot think of
it," said she ; " could you, if you had left the man
you love behind you, as I have mine ? "
" I'm begin — beginning to think I have," sobbed
poor Sadie, and buried her hot face in Mrs. Bel-
mont's motherly bosom.
The Camel Corps had all passed onwards down
the khor in pursuit of the retreating Dervishes,
and for a few minutes the escaped prisoners had
been left alone. But now there came a cheery
voice calling upon them, and a red turban bobbed
about among the rocks, with the large white
face of the Nonconformist minister smiling from
beneath it. He had a thick lance with which
to support his injured leg, and this murderous
crutch combined with his peaceful appearance
to give him a most incongruous aspect — as of
a sheep which has suddenly developed claws.
Behind him were two negroes with a basket and
"Not a word! Not a word!" he cried, as
he stumped up to them. " I know exactly how
you feel. I've been there myself. Bring the
water, Ali ! Only half a cup, Miss Adams ; you
shall have some more presently. Now your
NOT A WORD ! NOT A WORD ! " HE CRIED.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 307
turn, Mrs. Belmont ! Dear me, dear me, you
poor souls, how my heart does bleed for you !
There's bread and meat in the basket, but you
must be very moderate at first." He chuckled
with joy, and slapped his fat hands together as
he watched them.
" But the others ? " he asked, his face turning
The Colonel shook his head. "We left them
behind at the wells. I fear that it is all over
" Tut, tut ! " cried the clergyman, in a boisterous
voice, which could not cover the despondency
of his expression ; " you thought, no doubt, that
it was all over with me, but here I am in spite
of it. Never lose heart, Mrs. Belmont. Your
husband's position could not possibly be as
hopeless as mine was."
" When I saw you standing on that rock up
yonder, I put it down to delirium," said the
Colonel. " If the ladies had not seen you, I
should never have ventured to believe it."
" I am afraid that I behaved very badly. Captain
Archer says that I nearly spoiled all their plans,
308 THE TEAGEUY OF THE KOROSKO
and that I deserved to be tried by a drumhead
court-martial and shot. The fact is that, when
I heard the Arabs beneath me, I forgot myself
in my anxiety to know if any of you were left."
" I wonder that you were not shot without
any drumhead court-martial," said the Colonel.
" But how in the world did you get here ? "
" The Haifa people were close upon our track
at the time when I was abandoned, and they
picked me up in the desert. I must have been
delirious, I suppose, for they tell me that they
heard my voice, singing hymns, a long way off,
and it was that, under the providence of God,
which brought them to me. They had a camel
ambulance, and I was quite myself again by next
day. I came with the Sarras people after we met
them, because they have the doctor with them.
My wound is nothing, and he says that a man
of my habit will be the better for the loss of
blood. And now, my friends " — his big, brown
eyes lost their twinkle, and became very solemn
and reverent — "we have all been upon the very
confines of death, and our dear companions may
be so at this instant. The same Power which
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 309
saved us may save them, and let us pray together
that it may be so, always remembering that if, in
spite of our prayers, it should not be so, then
that also must be accepted as the best and wisest
So they knelt together among the black rocks,
and prayed as some of them had never prayed
before. It was very well to discuss prayer and
treat it lightly and philosophically upon the
deck of the Korosko. It was easy to feel strong
and self-confident in the comfortable deck-chair,
with the slippered Arab handing round the
coffee and liqueurs. But they had been swept
out of that placid stream of existence, and
dashed against the horrible, jagged facts of life.
Battered and shaken, they must have something
to cling to. A blind, inexorable destiny was too
horrible a belief. A chastening power, acting
intelligently and for a purpose — a living, work-
ing power, tearing them out of their grooves,
breaking down their small sectarian ways, forcing
them into the better path — that was what they
had learned to realise during these days of horror.
Great hands had closed suddenly upon them,
310 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOBOSKO
and had moulded them into new shapes, and
fitted them for new uses. Could such a power
be deflected by any human supplication ? It
was that or nothing — the last court of appeal,
left open to injured humanity. And so they
all prayed, as a lover loves, or a poet writes,
from the very inside of their souls, and they
rose with that singular, illogical feeling of in-
ward peace and satisfaction which prayer only
" Hush ! " said Cochrane. " Listen ! "
The sound of a volley came crackling up the
narrow khor, and then another and another.
The Colonel was fidgeting about like an old
horse which hears the bugle of the hunt and
the yapping of the pack.
" Where can we see what is going on ? "
" Come this way ! This way, if you please !
There is a path up to the top. If the ladies
will come after me, they will be spared the
sight of anything painful."
The clergyman led them along the side to
avoid the bodies which were littered thickly
down the bottom of the khor. It was hard
THE TRAGEDY OF THE K0R0SKO 311
walking over the shingly, slaggy stones, but
they made their way to the summit at last.
Beneath them lay the vast expanse of the roll-
ing desert, and in the foreground such a scene
as none of them are ever likely to forget. In
that perfectly dry and clear light, with the un-
varying brown tint of the hard desert as a
background, every detail stood out as clearly
as if these were toy figures arranged upon a
table within hand's- touch of them.
The Dervishes — or what was left of them —
were riding slowly some little distance out in
a confused crowd, their patchwork jibbehs and
red turbans swaying with the motion of their
camels. They did not present the appearance
of men who were defeated, for their movements
were very deliberate, but they looked about
them and changed their formation as if they
were uncertain what their tactics ought to be.
It was no wonder that they were puzzled, for
upon their spent camels their situation was as
hopeless as could be conceived. The Sarras
men had all emerged from the khor, and had
dismounted, the beasts being held in groups of
312 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOKOSKO
four, while the riflemen knelt in a long line with
a woolly, curling fringe of smoke, sending volley
after volley at the Arabs, who shot back in a
desultory fashion from the backs of their camels.
But it was not upon the sullen group of Der-
vishes, nor yet upon the long line of kneeling
riflemen, that the eyes of the spectators were
fixed. Far out upon the desert, three squadrons
of the Haifa Camel Corps were coming up in a
dense close column, which wheeled beautifully
into a widespread semicircle as it approached.
The Arabs were caught between two fires.
" By Jove ! " cried the Colonel. " See that ! "
The camels of the Dervishes had all knelt
down simultaneously, and the men had sprung
from their backs. In front of them was a tall,
stately figure, who could only be the Emir Wad
Ibrahim. They saw him kneel for an instant
in prayer. Then he rose, and taking something
from his saddle he placed it very deliberately
upon the sand and stood upon it.
" Good man ! " cried the Colonel. " He is
standing upon his sheepskin."
" What do you mean by that ? " asked Stuart.
THE ARABS WERE CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO FIRES.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 315
" Every Arab has a sheepskin upon his saddle.
When he recognises that his position is perfectly
hopeless, and yet is determined to fight to the
death, he takes his sheepskin off and stands
upon it until he dies. See, they are all upon
their sheepskins. They will neither give nor
take quarter now."
The drama beneath them was rapidly approach-
ing its climax. The Haifa Corps was well up,
and a ring of smoke and flame surrounded the
clump of kneeling Dervishes, who answered it as
best they could. Many of them were already
down, but the rest loaded and fired with the
unflinching courage which has always made them
worthy antagonists. A dozen kharki-dressed
figures upon the sand showed that it was no
bloodless victory for the Egyptians. But now
there was a stirring bugle call from the Sarras
men, and another answered it from the Haifa
Corps. Their camels were down also, and the
men had formed up into a single, long, curved
line. One last volley, and they were charging
inwards with the wild inspiriting yell which the
blacks had brought with them from their central
316 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
African wilds. For a minute there was a mad
vortex of rushing figures, rifle butts rising and
falling, spear-heads gleaming and darting among
the rolling dust cloud. Then the bugle rang
out once more, the Egyptians fell back and
formed up with the quick precision of highly
disciplined troops, and there in the centre,
each upon his sheepskin, lay the gallant bar-
barian and his raiders. The nineteenth century
had been revenged upon the seventh.
The three women had stared horror-stricken
and yet fascinated at the stirring scene before
them. Now Sadie and her aunt were sobbing
together. The Colonel had turned to them with
some cheering words when his eyes fell upon the
face of Mrs. Belmont. It was as white and set
as if it were carved from ivory, and her largo grey
eyes were fixed as if she were in a trance.
" Good Heavens, Mrs. Belmont, what is the
matter ? " he cried.
For answer she pointed out over the desert.
Far away, miles on the other side of the scene
of the fight, a small body of men were riding
THEY ARE SAVED
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 319
" By Jove, yes ; there's some one there. Who
can it be ? "
They were all straining their eyes, but the
distance was so great that they could only be
sure that they were camel-men and about a
dozen in number.
" It's those devils who were left behind in the
palm-grove," said Cochrane. " There's no one else
it can be. One consolation, they can't get away
again. They've walked right into the lion's mouth."
But Mrs. Belmont was still gazing with the
same fixed intensity, and the same ivory face.
Now, with a wild shriek of joy, she threw her
two hands into the air. " It's they ! " she
screamed. " They are saved ! It's they, Colonel,
it's they ! Miss Adams, Miss Adams, it is
they ! " She capered about on the top of the
hill with wild eyes like an excited child.
Her companions would not believe her, for
they could see nothing, but there are moments
when our mortal senses are more acute than
those who have never put their whole heart
and soul into them can ever realise. Mrs. Bel-
mont had already run down the rocky path,
320 THE TEAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
on the way to her camel, before they could
distinguish that which had long before carried
its glad message to her. In the van of the
approaching party, three white dots shimmered
in the sun, and they could only come from the
three European hats. The riders were travelling
swiftly, and by the time their comrades had
started to meet them they could plainly see that
it was indeed Belmont, Fardet, and Stephens,
with the dragoman Mansoor, and the wounded
Soudanese rifleman. As they came together
they saw that their escort consisted of Tippy
Tilly and the other old Egyptian soldiers. Bel-
mont rushed onwards to meet his wife, but
Fardet stopped to grasp the Colonel's hand.
" Vive la France ! Vivent les Anglais ! " he
was yelling. " Tout va Hen, nest ce pas, Colonel ?
Ah, canaille ! Vivent la croix et les Chre'tiens ! "
He was incoherent in his delight.
The Colonel, too, was as enthusiastic as his
Anglo-Saxon standard would permit. He could
not gesticulate, but he laughed in the nervous
crackling way which was his top-note of emotion.
" My dear boy, I am deuced glad to see you
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOEOSKO 321
all again. I gave you up for lost. Never was
as pleased at anything in my life ! How did
you get away ? "
" It was all your doing.'
" Mine ? "
" Yes, my friend, and I have been quarrelling
with you — ungrateful wretch that I am ! "
" But how did I save you ? "
" It was you who arranged with this excellent
Tippy Tilly and the others that they should
have so much if they brought us alive into Egypt
again. They slipped away in the darkness and
hid themselves in the grove. Then, when we
were left, they crept up with their rifles and
shot the men who were about to murder us.
That cursed Moolah, I am sorry they shot him,
for I believe that I could have persuaded him
to be a Christian. And now, with your per-
mission, I will hurry on and embrace Miss
Adams, for Belmont has his wife, and Stephens
has Miss Sadie, so I think it is very evident that
the sympathy of Miss Adams is reserved for me."
A fortnight had passed away, and the special
322 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
boat which had been placed at the disposal of
the rescued tourists was already far north of
Assiout. Next morning they would find them-
selves at Baliani, where one takes the express
for Cairo. It was, therefore, their last evening
together. Mrs. Shlesinger and her child, who
had escaped unhurt, had already been sent down
from the frontier. Miss Adams had been very ill
after her privations, and this was the first time
that she had been allowed to come upon deck
after dinner. She sat now in a lounge chair,
thinner, sterner, and kindlier than ever, while
Sadie stood beside her and tucked the rugs
around her shoulders. Mr. Stephens was carry-
ing over the coffee and placing it on the wicker
table beside them. On the other side of the
deck Belmont and his wife were seated together
in silent sympathy and contentment. Monsieur
Fardet was leaning against the rail, and arguing
about the remissness of the British Government
in not taking a more complete control of the
Egyptian frontier, while the Colonel stood very
erect in front of him, with the red end of a
cigar-stump protruding from under his moustache.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 323
But what was the matter with the Colonel ?
Who would have recognised him who had only
seen the broken old man in the Libyan Desert ?
There might be some little grizzling about the
moustache, but the hair was back once more
at the fine glossy black which had been so
much admired upon the voyage up. With a
stony face and an unsympathetic manner he had
received, upon his return to Haifa, all the com-
miserations about the dreadful way in which his
privations had blanched him, and then diving
into his cabin, he had reappeared within an hour
exactly as he had been before that fatal moment
when he had been cut off from the manifold
resources of civilisation. And he looked in such
a sternly questioning manner at every one who
stared at him, that no one had the moral courage
to make any remark about this modern miracle.
It was observed from that time forward that,
if the Colonel had only to ride a hundred yards
into the desert, he always began his prepara-
tions by putting a small black bottle with
a pink label into the side-pocket of his coat.
But those who knew him best at times when
324 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
a man may best be known, said that the old
soldier had a young man's heart and a young
man's spirit — so that if he wished to keep a
young man's colour also it was not very un-
reasonable after all.
It was very soothing and restful up there on
the saloon deck, with no sound but the gentle
lipping of the water as it rippled against the
sides of the steamer. The red after-glow was
in the western sky, and it mottled the broad,
smooth river with crimson. Dimly they could
discern the tall figures of herons standing upon
the sand-banks, and farther off the line of river-
side date-palms glided past them in a majestic
procession. Once more the silver stars were
twinkling out, the same clear, placid, inexorable
stars to which their weary eyes had been so
often upturned during the long nights of their
" Where do you put up in Cairo, Miss
Adams ? " asked Mrs. Belmont at last.
" Shepheard's, I think.''
" And you, Mr. Stephens ? "
" Oh, Shepheard's, decidedly."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 325
" We are staying at the Continental. I hope
we shall not lose sight of you."
" I don't want ever to lose sight of you, Mrs.
Belmont," cried Sadie. " Oh, you must come
to the States, and we'll give you just a lovely
Mrs. Belmont laughed, in her pleasant, mellow
" We have our duty to do in Ireland, and we
have been too long away from it already. My
husband has his business, and I have my home,
and they are both going to rack and ruin.
Besides," she added slyly, " it is just possible
that if we did come to the States we might not
find you there."
" We must all meet again," said Belmont, " if
only to talk our adventures over once more. It
will be easier in a year or two. We are still too
" And yet how far away and dream-like it all
seems ! " remarked his wife. " Providence is very
good in softening disagreeable remembrances in
our minds. All this feels to me as if it had
happened in some previous existence."
326 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
Fardet held up his wrist with a cotton bandage
still round it.
" The body does not forget as quickly as the
mind. This does not look very dream-like or
far away, Mrs. Belmont."
* How hard it is that some should be spared,
and some not ! If only Mr. Brown and Mr.
Headingly were with us, then I should not
have one care in the world," cried Sadie.
" Why should they have been taken, and we
left ? "
Mr. Stuart had limped on to the deck with
an open book in his hand, a thick stick support-
ing his injured leg.
" Why is the ripe fruit picked, and the unripe
left ? " said he in answer to the young girl's
exclamation. " We know nothing of the spiritual
state of these poor dear young fellows, but the
great Master Gardener plucks His fruit according
to His own knowledge. I brought you up a
passage to read to you."
There was a lantern upon the table, and he
sat down beside it. The yellow light shone
upon his heavy cheek and the red edges of his
HE DELIVERED THEM FROM THEIR DISTRESS."
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 329
book. The strong, steady voice rose above the
wash of the water.
" ' Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath
redeemed and delivered from the hand of the
enemy, and gathered them out of the lands, from
the east, and from the west, from the north, and
from the south. They went astray in the wilder-
ness out of the way, and found no city to dwell
in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in
them. So they cried unto the Lord in their
trouble, and He delivered them from their dis-
tress. He led them forth by the right way,
that they might go to the city where they
dwelt. Oh that men would therefore praise
the Lord for His goodness, and declare the
wonders that He doeth for the children of
" It sounds as if it were composed for us,
and yet it was written two thousand years
ago," said the clergyman, as he closed the
book. " In every age man has been forced
to acknowledge the guiding hand which leads
him. For my part I don't believe that
inspiration stopped two thousand years ago.
330 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
When Tennyson wrote with such fervour and
' Oil, yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,'
he was repeating the message which had been
given to him, just as Micah or Ezekiel, when the
world was younger, repeated some cruder and
more elementary message."
" That is all very well, Mr. Stuart," said the
Frenchman ; " you ask me to praise God for
taking me out of danger and pain, but what I
want to know is why, since He has arranged
all things, He ever put me into that pain and
danger. I have, in my opinion, more occasion
to blame than to praise. You would not thank
me for pulling you out of that river if it was
also I who pushed you in. The most which you
can claim for your Providence is that it has
healed the wound which its own hand inflicted."
" I don't deny the difficulty," said the clergy-
man slowly; "no one who is not self-deceived
can deny the difficulty. Look how boldly Tenny-
son faced it in that same poem, the grandest and
deepest and most obviously inspired in our
*THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 331
language. Remember the effect which it had
' I falter where I firmly trod,
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world's altar stairs
Which slope through darkness up to God ;
I stretch lame hands of faith and grope
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.'
It is the central mystery of mysteries — the
problem of sin and suffering, the one huge
difficulty which the reasoner has to solve in
order to vindicate the dealings of God with
man. But take our own case as an example.
I, for one, am very clear what I have got out
of our experience. I say it with all humility,
but I have a clearer view of my duties than
ever I had before. It has taught me to be less
remiss in saying what I think to be true, less
indolent in doing what I feel to be right."
" And I," cried Sadie. " It has taught me
more than all my life put together. I have
learned so much and unlearned so much. I am
a different girl."
332 THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO
" I never understood my own nature before/'
said Stephens. " I can hardly say that I had
a nature to understand. I lived for what
was unimportant, and I neglected what was
" Oh, a good shake-up does nobody any harm,"
the Colonel remarked. " Too much of the
feather-bed-and-four-meals-a-day life is not good
for man or woman."
" It is my firm belief," said Mrs. Belmont
gravely, " that there was not one of us Avho
did not rise to a greater height during those
days in the desert than ever before or since.
When our sins come to be weighed, much may
be forgiven us for the sake of those unselfish
They all sat in thoughtful silence for a little,
while the scarlet streaks turned to carmine, and
the grey shadows deepened, and the wild-fowl flew
past in dark straggling V's over the dull metallic
surface of the great smooth-flowing Nile. A cold
wind had sprung up from the eastward, and some
of -the party rose to leave the deck. Stephens
leaned forward to Sadie.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE KOROSKO 333
" Do you remember what you promised when
you were in the desert ? " he whispered.
« What was that ? "
" You said that if you escaped you would try
in future to make some one else happy."
" Then I must do so."
" You have," said he, and their hands met
under the shadow of the table.
Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson &> Co.
Edinburgh <5^ London
NOVELS BY CONAN DOYLE
M Dr. Conan Doyle's fascinating story."— Daily News.
Second Edition. With Twelve Full
A MEMORY OF
-page Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 6s.
E RN AC :
The WORLD.— "'Uncle Bernac' is a masterpiece. This
memory of the empire will make the most immortal. y inter-
esting of human beings, Napoleon, live and move and speak
within the knowledge of every one who reads it."
The SPEAKER.—" It is not a small" thing that we should
iave found amongst ourselves a writer who can thus inter-
pret history for us, and revive the faded memories of the
past in the spirit, and with something of the genius of
The SPECTATOR.—" A very readable book, written in
that vivid, virile style which is to us one of his chief attrac-
The OBSERVER.— "Dr. Conan Doyle has won yet
another success. . . . From the opening pages the clear
and energetic telling of the story never falters and our
attention never flags."
The DAILY CHRONICLE.—" ' Uncle Bernac ■ is for a
truth Dr. Doyle's Napoleon. Viewed as a picture of the
little man in the grey coat, it must take rank before any-
thing he has written. The fascination of it is extraordinary.
It reaches everywhere a high literary level."
The DAILY MAIL.—" ' Uncle Bernac ' has the vitality,
the power, and the true human touch which we have learned
to expect from this master of his craft."
A notable and very brilliant work of genius."— The Speaker.
With Eight Full-page Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 6s.
The TIMES. — " ' Rodney Stone ' is in our judgment
distinctly the best of Dr. Conan Doyle's novels. . . . There
are few descriptions in fiction that can vie with that race
upon the Brighton road."
The DAILY TELEGRAPH. — " Dr. Conan Doyle has
written a wonderful book in this his latest contribution to
the new romance. The story goes so gallantly from start
to finish that we are fairly startled out of our Jin de Steele
indifference and carried along in breathless excitement to
learn the fate of the boy hero and the inimitable dandy."
The DAILY NEWS.—" A brilliantly imagined and exe-
uted picture of England at the beginning of the century.
. . The story is a romance of the ring; it is steeped in an
atmosphere of high national endeavour. From the opening
chapter the swing and stir of the romance is kept up un-
ging. . . . The illustrations deserve a word of special
The ATHENSUM.— " In 'Rodney Stone* Dr. Conan
Doyle has achieved a decided success. He supplies a
lively picture of life in the early days of this century, and
withal tells his readers, in sound and vigorous English, an
excellent good tale, which will secure attention to the end."
The SPEAKER. — "To recommend such a story as this
to the attention of the reader would be superfluous. It can
command and retain that attention for itself. . . . There is.
a largeness of treatment, a breadth of view, a directness
and simplicity of style that forcibly recall the golden age of
English fiction, and compel us to recognise the hand of a
PUNCH.— "A delightful quality about 'Rodney Stone Ms
its lilting ' go.' There is not a dull page in it from first to
last. All is light, colour, movement, blended and inspired
by a master hand."
The WORLD.— "The daring yet simple romance is of
extraordinary realistic interest. . . . The finest chapters in
the book are those which tell of the long naval war with
France, giving us marvellously vivid pictures of our great
Eighteenth Edition. Crown 8vo, 6s.
THE WHITE COMPANY.
The TIMES.— "We congratulate Mr. A. Conan Doyle.
We could not desire a more stirring romance, or one more
flattering to our national traditions. We feel throughout
that Mr. Conan Doyle's story is not a mere item in the
catalogue of exciting romances. It is real literature."
The DAILY CHRONICLE.—" Dr. Conan Doyle has done
nothing better than ' The White Company.' The whole
narrative is written with spirit, and is full of life and
The SATURDAY REVIEW. — "The book is a good
book, and will be devoured with eagerness by all healthy-
minded Britons who love adventure.
Mr. JAMES PAYN in the ILLUSTRATED LONDON
[TEWS.— "I have read nothing of the kind so good since
' Ivanhoe,' with which it has many points of resemblance."
The GUARDIAN. -"A piece of healthy
workmanship. ... It ought not to be overlc
looked by any
who find their pleasure in ' the more excellent way ' of
' Ivanhoe' and ' Hereward the Wake.'"
The WORLD.— "The pith lies in the narrative, in the
quick succession of stirring scenes, in the broad course of
events. In this respect ' The White Company * is a brave
London: SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 Waterloo Place, S.W.
W. M. THACKERAY'S WORKS
THE LIBRARY EDITION
i 3 s.
THE BOOK OF SNOBS; SKETCHES ANI
TRAVELS IN LONDON; AND CHARACTE1
SKETCHES. With Illustrations by the Author.
BURLESQUES : —
Novels by Eminent Hands — Adventures of Majc
Gahagan — Jeames's Diary — A Legend of the Rhine-
Rebecca and Rowena — The History of the Next Frenc
Revolution — Cox's Diary. With Illustrations by the Authc
and Richard Doyle.
CHRISTMAS BOOKS OF M. A. TIT
Mrs. Perkins's Ball— Dr. Birch — Our Street — Th
Kickleburys on the Rhine— The Rose and the Ring
With Twenty-four Illustrations by the Author.
Twenty-four Volumes, Large Crown 8vo, 7s. 6d. each, with Illustrations by the
Author, Richard Doyle, and Frederick Walker.
Sets in cloth, ,£9 ; or, in half- Russia, ,£13,
VANITY FAIR. A Novel without a Hero.
Two Volumes. With Forty Steel Engravings and 149
Woodcuts by the Author.
THE HISTORY OF PENDENNIS: His
Fortunes and Misfortunes: His Friends
and his Greatest Enemy. Two Volumes. With
Forty-eight Steel Engravings and numerous Woodcuts
by the Author.
THE NEWCOMES: Memoirs of a most
Respectable Family. Two Volumes. With
Forty-eight Steel Engravings by RICHARD DOYLE,
and numerous Woodcuts.
THE HISTORY OF HENRY ESMOND,
Esq. : A Colonel in the Service of Her
Majesty Queen Anne. With Eight Illustratons
by GEORGE DU MAURIER, and numerous Woodcuts.
THE VIRGINIANS: A Tale of the Last
CENTURY. Two Volumes. With Forty-eight Steel
Engravings and numerous Woodcuts by the Author.
THE ADVENTURES OF PHILIP ON HIS
WAY THROUGH THE WORLD, SHOWING WHO
Robbed Him, who Helped Him, and who
PASSED Him BY, To which is prefixed A SHABBY
GENTEEL STORY. Two Volumes. With Twenty
Illustrations by the Author and FREDERICK WALKER.
THE PARIS SKETCH=BOOK OF MR. M.
A. TITMARSH AND THE MEMOIRS OF MR.
C. T. YELLOWPLUSH. With Illustrations by the
THE MEMOIRS OF BARRY LYNDON,
ESQ.. WRITTEN BY HIMSELF : WITH THE HIS-
TORY OF SAMUEL TITMARSH AND THE
GREAT HOGGARTY DIAMOND. With Illustra-
tions by the Author.
THE IRISH SKETCH-BOOK: and NOTES
OF A JOURNEY FROM CORNHILL TO GRAND
CAIRO. With Illustrations by the Author.
BALLADS AND TALES.
by the Author.
THE FOUR GEORGES; T
HUMORISTS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CEr-
TURY. With Portraits and other Illustrations.
ROUNDABOUT PAPERS. To which is adde
the SECOND FUNERAL OF NAPOLEON. Wit
Illustrations by the Author.
DENIS DUVAL; LOVEL THE WIDOWEI
AND OTHER STORIES. With Illustrations t
Frederick Walker and the Author.
CATHERINE, a Story; LITTLE TRAVELS
THE FITZBOODLE PAPERS; CRITICAL Rl
VIEWS; AND THE WOLVES AND THE LAM1
Illustrations by the Author, and a Portrait.
MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS, SKETC
AND REVIEWS. With Illustrations by the Autho)
CONTRIBUTIONS TO "PUNCH.'
132 Illustrations by the Author.
THE POPULAR EDITION
Complete in Thirteen Volumes, Crown 8vo, with Frontispiece to each Volume,
price 5s. each.
Sets, handsomely bound in scarlet cloth, gilt top, price £3, 5s. ; or in half-morocco, gilt
price £e ) , 10s.
i.— VANITY FAIR.
2.— THE HISTORY OF PENDENNIS.
3.— THE NEWCOMES.
4.— ESMOND AND BARRY LYNDON.
5.— THE VIRGINIANS.
6.— THE ADVENTURES OF PHILIP, to
which is prefixed A SHABBY GENTEEL STORY.
7.— PARIS, IRISH,
Paris Sketch-Book — Irish
Sketch-Book — Cornhill to
8.— HOGGARTY DIAMOND. YELLOW-
PLUSH PAPERS, AND BURLESQUES:—
The Great Hoggarty Diamond — Vellowplush Papers —
Novels by Eminent Hands— Jeamess Diary— Adventures
of Major Gahagan— A Legend of the Rhine— Rebecca
and Rowena— The History of the Next French Revolution
— Cox s Diary— The Fatal Boots.
Q.-THE BOOK OF SNOBS, AN
SKETCHES OF LIFE AND CHARACTER :—
The Book of Snobs — Sketches and Travels in London!
Character Sketches— Men's Wives— The Fitzboodle Pape
— The Bedford Row Conspiracy — A Little Dinner
Roundabout Papers— The Four Georges— The Engl
Humorists of the Eighteenth Century — The Second Funei
11— CATHERINE, &c.
Catherine — Lovel the Widower — Denis Duval — BaTla
— The Wolves and the Lamb — Critical Reviews— Lit
Travels and Roadside Sketches.
Mrs. Perkins's Ball — Dr. Brch — Our Street — T
Kickleburys on the Rhine — The Rose and the Ring.
SKETCHES, AND REVIEWS; CONTRIBUTIOI
London: SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 Waterloo Place, S.W.
>mith, Elder, & Co.'s New Books
Third Edition, 2 vols, with Portraits, crown 8vo, 15s. net.
THE LETTERS OF
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
Edited, with Biographical Additions, by
FRED ERIC G. KEN YON.
;hi; |EEDS THAT WON THE EMPIRE. By the Rev. W. H. Fitchett. With
11 Plans and 16 Portraits. Fourth Edition. Crown 8vo, 6s.
ff 'HE STORY OF THE CHURCH OF EGYPT: being an Outline of the History of
the Egyptians under their successive Masters from the Roman Conquest until now. By E. L.
Butcher, Author of "A Strange Journey," "A Black Jewel," &c. In 2 vols, crown 8vo, 16s.
HE LIFE OF SIR JOHN HAWLEY GLOVER, R.N., G.C.M.G. By Lady
Glover. Edited by the Right Hon. Sir Richard Temple, Bart., G.C.S.I., D.C.L., LL.D.
F.R.S. With Portrait and Maps. Demy 8vo, 14s.
HE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ARTHUR YOUNG. With Selections from his
Correspondence. Edited by M. Betham-Edwards. With 2 Portraits and 2 Views. Large
crown 8vo, 12s. 6d.
?$)RD COCHRANE'S TRIAL BEFORE LORD ELLENBOROUGH IN 1814.
By J. B. Atlay. With a Preface by Edward Downes Law, Commander, Koyal Navy. With
Portrait, 8vo, 18s.
" Mr. Atlay, it will be generally thought, completely exonerates Lord Ellenborough from the charges
recklessly and cruelly brought against his memory." — Scotsman.
HE WAR OF GREEK INDEPENDENCE, 1821-1833. By W. Alison
Phillii'S, M.A., late Scholar of Merton College, Senior Scholar of St. John's College, Oxford.
With Map. Large crown 8vo, 7s. 6d.
WELVE YEARS IN A MONASTERY. By Joseph McCabe, late Father
Antony, O.S.F. Large crown 8vo, 7s. 6d.
JTALIAN LITERATURE. By the late John Addington Symonds. 2 vols, large
crown 8vo, 15s. (Vols. IV. and V. of the New and Cheaper Edition of " The Renaissance in Italy"
in 7 vols.)
HE POEMS OF ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING. Complete in i volume,
with Portrait and Facsimile of the MS. of a "Sonnet from the Portuguese." Large crown 8vo,
bound in cloth, with gilt top, 7s. 6d.
** This edition is uniform with the two-volume edition of Robert Browning's complete works.
HE GREY LADY. By Henry Seton Merriman, Author of "The Sowers,"
"With Edged Tools," "In Kedar's Tents," &c. New Edition. With 12 Full-page Illustrations
N' by Arthur Rackham. Crown 8vo, 6s.
J>»[ARCELLA. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. Cheap Popular Edition. Crown 8vo,
bound in limp cloth, 2s. 6d.
RIENDSHIP'S GARLAND. By Matthew Arnold. Second Edition. Small
Nl crown 8vo, bound in white cloth, 4s. 6d.
TUDIES IN BOARD SCHOOLS. By Charles Morley. Crown 8vo,
" A work which all who are interested in the work and possibilities of the School Board should hasten
read."— Daily Mail.
4LECTRIC MOVEMENTS IN AIR AND WATER. With Theoretical Inferences.
By Lord Armstrong, C.B., F.R.S., LL.D., &c. With Autotype Plates. Imperial 4to, £1, 10s.
SABELLA THE CATHOLIC, QUEEN OF SPAIN: Her Life, Reign, and
Times, 1451-1504. By M. le Baron DE Nervo. Translated from the Original French by
Lieut. -Colonel Temple-West (Retired). With Portraits. Demy 8vo, 12s. 6d.
ijABRIELE VON BULOW, Daughter of Wilhelm von_ Humboldt. A
Memoir compiled from the Family Papers of Wilhelm von Humboldt and his Children, 1791-1887.
Translated by Clara Nordlinger. With Portraits and a Preface by Sir Edward B. Malet,
G.C.B., G.C.M.G., &c. Demy 8vo, 16s.
OT-POURRI FROM A SURREY GARDEN. By Mrs. C. W. Earle. With an
Appendix by Lady Constance Lytton. Tenth Edition. Large crown 8vo, 7s. 6d.
London: SMITH, ELDER. & CO., 15 Waterloo Place, S.W.
SMITH, ELDER, & CO/8 POPULAR LIBRARY.
Fcp. Svo. limp green cloth ; or cloth boards, gilt top. 2s. 6d. each.
By the Sisters BRONTE.
JANE EYRE. By Charlotte Bronte.
SHIRLEY. By Charlotte Bronte.
VILLETTE. By Charlotte Bronte.
THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL. By Anne Bronte.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS. By Emily Bronte. AGNES GREY. By Anne Brontg
With Preface and Memoir of the Sisters, by Charlotte Bronte.
THE PROFESSOR. By Charlotte Bronte. To which are added the Poems of Charlotte,
Emily, and Anne Bronte.
By Mrs. GASKELL.
WIVES AND DAUGHTERS.
NORTH AND SOUTH.
CRANFORD, and other Tales.
MARY BARTON, and other Tales,
RUTH, AND OTHER TALES.
LIZZIE LEIGH, and other Tale*.
LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE.
By LEIGH HUNT.
IMAGINATION AND FANCY j or, Selections from the English Poets.
THE TOWN : Its Memorable Characters and Events. Illustrated.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF LEIGH HUNT.
MEN, WOMEN, AND BOOKS ; a Selection of Sketches, Essays, and Critical Memoirs.
WIT AND HUMOUR: Selected from the English Poets.
A JAR OF HONEY FROM MOUNT HYBLA : or, Sweets from Sicily in Particular,
and Pastoral Poetry in General.
TABLE TALK. To which are added IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS OF POPE
Uniform with the above.
THE SMALL HOUSE AT ALL1NG-
TON. By Anthony Trollope.
THE CLAVERINGS. By Anthony
FRAM LEY PARSONAGE. By Anthony
ROMOLA. By George Eliot.
TRANSFORMATION. By Nathaniel
DEERBROOK. By Harriet Martineau.
HOUSEHOLD EDUCATION. By
LECTURES ON THE ENGLISH
HUMOURISTS OF THE EIGH-
TEENTH CENTURY. By W. M.
Also the following in limp red
A BRIDE FROM THE BUSH. By
E. W. Hornung.
THE STORY OF ABIBAL THE TSOU-
RIAN. Edited by Val C. Prinsep,
HOLIDAY PAPERS. Second Series. By
the Rev. Harry Jones.
VICE VERSA. By F. Anstey.
A FALLEN IDOL. By F. Anstey.
THE PARIAH. By F. Anstey.
PAUL THE POPE AND PAUL THE
FRIAR. By T. A. Trollope.
THE ROSE-GARDEN. By the Author
CHRONICLES OF DUSTYPORE. A
Tale of Modern Anglo-Indian Society.
By the Author of ' Wheat and Tares. '
IN THE SILVER AGE. By Holme Lee.
CARITA. By Mrs. Oliphant.
WITHIN THE PRECINCTS. By
SOME LITERARY RECOLLEC-
TIONS. By James Payn.
EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS
OF W. M. THACKERAY.
FALLING IN LOVE; with other
Essays. By Grant Allen.
cloth, crown 8vo, 2s. 6d. each.
THE TALKING HORSE; and other
Tales. By F. Anstey.
THE GIANT'S ROBE. By F. Anstey.
THE VAGABONDS. By Margaret L
THE MARTYRED FOOL. By D.
GRAN 1 A : The Story of an Island. By the
Hon. Emily Lawless.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GEORGE
DRIFFELL. By James Payn.
London: SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 Waterloo Place.
SMITH, ELDER, & CO.'S POPULAR UBRARY-»«aw
Fcp. Svo. Pictorial Covets, 2s. each; or limp red cloth, zs. 6d. each.
By HENRY SETON MERRIMAN.
WITH EDGED TOOLS. I THE SLAVE OF THE LAMP.
FROM ONE GENERATION TO ANOTHER.
By the Author of 'Molly Bawn.'
AIRY FAIRY LILIAN.
FAITH & UNFAITH.
LOYS, LORD BERRES-
FORD, and other Tales.
GREEN PLEASURE AND
By GEORGE GISSING.
DEMOS: a Story oi Social- I A LIFE'S MORNING. I THE NETHER WORLD,
ist Life in England. I THYRZA. | NEW GRUB STREET.
By the Author of ' Mehalah.'
MEHALAH: a Story of I THE GAVEROCKS. I RICHARD CABLE, THE
the Salt Marshes.
HEAPS OF MONEY.
JOHN HERRING: a West
of England Romance.
W. E. NORRIS.
MADEMOISELLE DE I NO NEW THING.
MERSAC. | ADRIAN VIDAL.
PENRUDDOCKE. I MR. AND MRS. F
I MORALS AND MYSTE- CONBRIDGE.
| RIES. |
the Author of 'John Halifax, Gentleman.'
ROMANTIC TALES. i DOMESTIC STORIES.
AGAINST WIND AND TIDE.
SYLVAN HOLT'S DAUGHTER.
WARP AND WOOF.
\NNIS WARLEIGH'S FORTUNES.
THE WORTLEBANK DIARY.
BASIL GODFREY'S CAPRICE.
GRASP YOUR NETTLE.
By E. Lynn Linton.
AGNES OF SORRENTO.
By Mrs. H. B. Stowe.
TALES OF THE COLO-
NIES. ByC. Rowcroft.
LAVINIA. By the Author
of ' Dr. Antonio &c.
HESTER KIRTON. By
Katharine S. Macquoid.
BY THE SEA. By Katha-
rine S. Macquoid.
THE HOTEL DU PETIT
VERA. By the Author of
' The Hotel du Petit St.
SIX MONTHS HENCE.
By the Author of Behind
the Veil ' tkc.
THE STORY OF THE
PLEBISCITE. By MM.
GABRIEL DENVER. By
Oliver Madox Brown.
MR. WYNYARD'S WARD.
THE BEAUTIFUL MISS
BEN MILNER'S WOOING.
Uniform with the above.
TAKE CARE WHOM ,
YOU TRUST. ByComp- 1
PEARL and EMERALD.
By R. E. Francillon.
ISEULTE. By the Author
of 'The H6tel du Petit St.
A GARDEN OF WOMEN.
By Sarah Tytler.
By MM. Erckmann-Cha-
FOR PERCIVAL. By
LOVE THE DEBT. By
Richard Ashe King
RAINBOW GOLD. By D.
THE HEIR OF THE
AGES. By James Payn.
LOLA : a Tale of the Rock.
By Arthur Griffiths.
FRENCH JANET. By
THE COUNTY: a Story
of Social Life.
BEHIND THE VEIL. By
the Author of ' Six Months
THE RAJAH'S HEIR.
By a New Writer.
ADR AUGHT of LETHE.
By Roy Tellet, Author of
EIGHT DAYS: a Tale of
the Indian Mutiny. By
R. E. Forrest.
A WOMAN OF THE
WORLD. By F. Mabel
THE NEW RECTOR.
By Stanley J. Weyman.
DARK : a Tale of the Down
Country. By Mrs. Stephen
STANHOPE OF CHES
TER : a Mystery. B>
London: SMITH, ELDER, & CO., IS Waterloo Place.
Each Work complete in One Volume, crown 8vo,
price Six Shillings.
IN KEDAR'S TENTS. r,v Henry Seton Mer-
riman. Seventh Edition.
THE GREY LADY. By Henry Seton Merri-
MAN. With 12 full-page Illustrations by
THE MILLS OF GOD. By FRANCIS H. HARDY.
UNCLE BERNAC: a Memory of the Empire.
By A. Conan Doyle. With 12 full-page
Illustrations. Second Edition.
THE WAYS OF LIFE : Two Stories. By Mrs.
THE LADY GRANGE. By Alexander Innes
RODNEY STONE. By A. CONAN DOYLE. With
8 full-page Illustrations.
SIR GEORGE TRESSADY. By Mrs. Humphry
WARD. Third Edition.
CLEG KELLY, ARAB OF THE CITY. By S. R.
Crockett. Thirty-third Thousand.
THE SOWERS. By Henry Seton Merriman.
THE WHITE COMPANY. By A. Conan Doyle.
MARCELLA. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. Six-
ROBERT ELSMERE. By Mrs. HUMPHRY WARD.
THE HISTORY OF DAVID GRIEVE. By Mrs.
Humphry Ward. Ninth Edition.
GERALD EVERSLEY'S FRIENDSHIP ; a Study
in Real Life. By the Rev. J. E. C. Welldon.
THE BORDERER. By Adam Lilburn.
UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. By ARCHIE
GILBERT MURRAY. By A. E. Houghton.
OUT OF THE DARKNESS. By PERCY FEN-
DALL and POX Kl'ssKLL.
THE YOUNG CLANROY: a Romance of the '45.
By the Rev. Cosmo Gordon Lang.
CAPTAIN CASTLE : a Tale of the China Seas.
By Carlton Dawe. With a Frontispiece.
THE WARDLAWS. By E. Rentoul Esler.
KATE GRENVILLE. By Lord Monkswell.
DISTURBING ELEMENTS. By MABEL C.
IN SEARCH OF QUIET: a Country Journal.
By Walter Frith.
KINCAID'S WIDOW. By SARAH Tytler.
THE MARTYRED FOOL. By D. Christie
A FATAL RESERVATION. By R. 0. Prowse.
THE VAGABONDS. By Mrs. Margaret L.
Woods, Author of " A Village Tragedy," &e.
ONE OF THE BROKEN BRIGADE. By Clive
JAN : an Afrikander. By Anna Howarth.
DEBORAH OF TOD'S. By Mrs. Henry De
GRANIA : the Story of an Island. By the Hon.
THE SIGNORA : a Tale. By Percy Andreae.
STANHOPE OF CHESTER: a Mystery. By.
THE MASK AND THE MAN. By PERCY
A FALLEN IDOL. By F. Anstey.
THE GIANT'S ROBE. By F. Anstey.
THE PARIAH. By F. Anstey.
THE TALKING HORSE, and Other Tales. By
NEW GRUB STREET. By GEORGE GlSSiNG.
THYR2A. By GEORGE Gissixg.
THE NETHER WORLD. By GEORGE Gissing.
DEMOS : a Story of Socialist Life in England.
By George gissing.
RICHARD CABLE, the Lightshipman. By the
Author of " Mehalah," &c.
THE GAVEROCKS. By the Author of " Meha-
lah," "John Herring," &c.
A WOMAN OF THE WORLD. By F. MABEL
EIGHT DAYS. By R. E. FORREST.
A DRAUGHT OF LETHE. By ROY Tellet.
THE RAJAH'S HEIR. By a New Author.
OLD KENSINGTON. By Miss THACKERAY.
THE VILLAGE ON THE CLIFF. By Miss
FIVE OLD FRIENDS AND A YOUNG PRINCE.
By Miss Thackeray.
TO ESTHER, and Other Sketches. By Miss
BLUEBEARD'S KEYS, and Other Stories. By
THE STORY OF ELIZABETH ; TWO HOURS ;
FROM AN ISLAND. By Miss THACKERAY.
TOILERS AND SPINSTERS. By Miss
MISS ANGEL ; FULHAM LAWN. By Miss
MISS WILLIAMSON'S DIVAGATIONS. By
MRS. DYMOND. By Miss THACKERAY.
LLANALY REEFS. By Lady Verney, Author
of "Stone Kdge,"&c.
LETTICE LISLE. By Lady Verney. With 3
London: SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 Waterloo Place, S.W.